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Reflections by Pastor Jack Lash on the occasion of Gainesville Presbyterian Church’s 30th Anniversary Banquet on May 8, 2010
I’ve now lived half my life at GPC. I’ve raised my kids here. Nine were born here. Ten were baptized into this church. My number one was one when we first arrived, and next year my eleventh will be eleven. This is where they found most of their friends and this is where we found most of ours. In spite of all our sins and flaws, here in the context of this body I was loved, my wife was loved, my kids were loved.
There were disappointments, discouragements and rejections to be sure, but far fewer than my failures, and far fewer than I deserved. Indeed, all tears and frustrations were far overshadowed by the encouragements, the laughter, the hugs, the joys, the prayers, the expressions of love, the friendships. Sometimes I have been accused and rejected when I didn’t deserve it, but much more often I have been accepted, tolerated and even appreciated when I didn’t deserve it.
I am still pained by people I loved who have gone away. And yet so very comforted and encouraged by those who are here. Seriously I am stunned that you all put up with me, and that God has given me the wonderful privilege of preaching and teaching the word of God to such eager and sincere folks.
I was just a kid when I got here (in some ways I guess I’m still a kid). My baptism of fire in the ministry in the fall of 1982 was Madelaine Redman’s funeral. Fresh out of seminary, Phil Douglass had just left on a mission trip to India. I’d never conducted a funeral before. I’d never even been to a Christian funeral before. And I remember the patience, supportiveness and the guidance everyone gave me through that process. And this became the pattern for my ministry here. You have been more than patient. I was called here to help you grow, but I grew instead.
Hopefully I’m humbler now, though I will struggle with pride for the rest of my life. I regret the many ways I’ve failed. But mostly I am thankful for the many graces God has given, for small ways He enabled us to be what we were supposed to be and do what we were supposed to do, for the privilege of proclaiming the word of life to ones Christ so dearly loves.
Most of all I am thankful for Jesus, for the chance to know Him and make Him known, and for His willingness to dwell here with us through the years. It’s what made this house a home.
30 years ago people gathered in a school building to start a new church. Really they had no idea what they were doing, but the Lord did. He was at work. He was in charge.
For 30 years He’s sustained and guided and enriched and blessed and taught and helped and provided for and — more than anything else — forgiven us.
God be glorified! Let the people shout and cheer!
God be glorified! Thirty years and we’re still here