Dear brothers and sisters in our parish family:
It is time for the Harmons to depart from Christ-St. Paul’s, a place I have called home since 2002.
‘Life is not so much a problem to be solved as a mystery to be lived’ is one of the theses upon which I hang my hat. It means embracing the good news that we are not in charge, that God is working his purposes out BUT in the midst of our lives EXACTLY HOW he is doing so is never entirely clear to us. That only comes later. Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face.
Why now? The simple reason is now is the time that the Bishop has asked us to, for the good of the future leadership and the health of the parish. When the senior warden and I first discussed this in December, she laid out April as a likely possibility. I wanted to stay to be a helpful bridge figure during part of the interim, and I pray I have managed through God’s grace to do some of that for the people of God here. It has ended up being May—God’s timing for whatever reason, and Pentecost seems a fitting day to be our last Sunday.
Endings are good times to reconsider beginnings, and when we do it is beyond absurd that I am even here at all. My best friend from College said he could see me serving anywhere in the country except the deep South. Bishop Salmon was adamantly opposed to my coming initially, and it took weeks of persuasion so as to open him to this possibility.
And what a time it has been. Two priests, from different parts of the country, with different gifts and personalities, overlapping during some 18 years together. We had a deep love for one another, a deep commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of Holy Scripture, and a deep trust in one another. Such a season in parish ministry is HIGHLY UNCOMMON in itself, and yet through it all we managed to take creative risks, with series on things as diverse as the Ten Commandments and the characters of Christmas and on and on.
I wouldn’t change an iota for all the world, as diverse and varied as it has been. You all have loved me and my family and prayed for us and there is no way fully to put into words what that has meant. We thank God for you—from the bottom of our hearts.
So now we go forth into a different, mysterious future. As the Psalmist says ‘our times are in thy hand.’
In commenting on this verse, one of my preaching heroes, Charles Spurgeon writes: ‘The great truth is this-all that concerns the believer is in the hands of the Almighty God. “My times”, these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning. “My times”, that is to say, my ups and my downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth-all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to his holy will the length of my days, and the darkness of my nights. Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment. Whether times are reviving or depressing remains with him who is Lord both of time and of eternity; and we are glad it is so.’
I am glad that it is so–that in the thread of our lives and yours, in the tapestry God is weaving in history, we have overlapped for this special, blessed season. May the Lord be with you and please know we are so thankful for you, we love you and shall always remember you in our prayers.
Until we meet again in heaven, if not before, warmly in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Kendall Harmon
‘Then Aslan turned to them and said:
“You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be….”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.’ (The Last Battle)
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) May 6, 2021