Jeremiah 31:27-34
Romans 3:19-28
John 8:31-36
Life is full of surprises. Thirty years ago, the desert was pretty close to the last place I ever expected to live. Twenty-two years ago, I never imagined I would be serving in parish ministry again, and I certainly didn’t think I would ever be in one place this long. Come to think of it, I still don’t think I have fully wrapped my mind around the idea that I am retiring, or that this is my last newsletter.
It has been quite a ride and looking back, some of it has simply flown by. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride but going through the rough parts together has brought us together in ways that might not otherwise have happened.
But the good memories still being a smile to my face. Filming a spaghetti western in Gold Field Ghost town when the temperatures were well into triple digits stands out. There were shows and skits and music and Vacation Bible School and Campfirmation antics along the way. There were births and baptisms, confirmations and weddings, and memorial services where we said good-bye to old friends. There were candles on Christmas Eve and shadows on Good Friday; things we planned that went well and things we planned that just didn’t work.
Feed My Starving Children began in our sanctuary on its way to a dedicated space in Mesa. Houses were built for families with partners from three other congregations. Children of Hope opened with hurdles that seemed too high, but we jumped them and over 600 children have been nurtured here since. The Garden of Eatin’ began with two demonstrations beds and has now grown into a full community garden. And there has been so much more.

The Psalmist writes, “Be still and know that I am God.” Yes, life indeed is full of surprises. Esperanza has found a place in my heart that I never imagined. I know that it will continue to be a beacon on the corner of Ray and Thunderhill; a place for rest and recovery, celebration and purpose, ministry and worship; a place where all are welcome at the table of hope. Vaya con Dios.

Here is my favorite poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.