We really missed you!

We really missed you!

“Welcome back, Pastor Mark. We really missed you…but we really didn’t miss you!” 

That was one of the welcomes I received when Cyndi and I returned from our sabbatical. And I understand…and am DELIGHTED…with what I know they meant by that. They love me and are glad to see me. AND…they are telling me that my great team did a spectacular job leading the church in my absence.

Both of those messages are wonderful for me to hear. Cyndi and I love and missed our Sweetheart Church, too! With the exception of one Sunday when we were in our daughter Rachel’s cabin with its lousy wi-fi, we worshiped with you each week. It was a blessing to hear God’s word proclaimed to faithfully and well and to join in the singing of praise to our great God. A particularly big thank you to Pastor Ellis who carried the lion’s share of the preaching responsibility. What a great journey through Joshua this has been!

I’m GLAD to see how well things go when I’m not around. It is as it should be…as we have prepared for…and when you have such strong elders, pastors and leaders, I wouldn’t expect anything BUT that.

Still, I’m enormously grateful and pleased to know how smoothly things carried on while I took what will be the last of my sabbaticals at Chapel Hill.

I’m eager to share with you what the Lord taught Cyndi and me while we were away. And yes, I might have a funny story or two to share. Like when I almost drove off with the gasoline hose still in my car…or the unbelievable things that fell out of the tree in front of Rachel as she was hiking through the woods. 

And this Sunday, we will get started! It’s the first Sunday of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. I’m going to preach a series called “Christmas Presence” and this week we will visit two of the unsung characters in the Christmas story, Simeon and Anna. 

I understand we’ve had a lot of newcomers while I’ve been gone. So, I’m eager to make your acquaintance…as well as to say “hi” in person to the rest of my Sweetheart Church.  What a blessing you are!  As we wrap up this Thanksgiving Season, my heart is full of gratitude for the many gifts of God. And you are near the top of my list.

Pastor Mark Toone
Chapel Hill Gig Harbor