Wow! I will never forget the amazing month of August 2018. What a remarkable time of celebration, tears, laughter and joy. This was a farewell that every single one of you made special in so many ways. After 32 years of faithful service we sent Hal and Jean off with every honor and blessing that were in our power to bestow. Among the many favorite moments I will take with me was the delightful skit at the Saturday night concert. Our own Murrill Robinson (and his fabulous back-up singers!) sang a parody of the Drifters’ 1964 classic “Under the Boardwalk” with words composed for Hal and Jean: “After the Pulpit.”
Then we danced the night away! It was as fun as any wedding reception! I watched two-year-olds twisting with teenagers and 90-year-olds putting on a dance clinic. I heard Hal remark: “This is what the Kingdom of God looks like.”
The next morning was special in a different way. I have never heard such a beautiful sound as our sanctuary filled to the brim with 400 voices praising Christ. Russ, Matt, the Praise Band, the Choir and Betty all did a tremendous job working together and the Celebration Committee and all their co-workers transformed our campus once again into a late-summer picnic palace.
I was personally very moved by the 8:30 prayer service. Hal surprised us all and showed up to join in the prayers. The meeting began by praying through Isaiah 61 for the Oakley family and for our church. Then together we listened to the Holy Spirit and each of us gave a short word from the Spirit to send Hal and Jean on their way. A 94-year-old charter member bowed his head next to a four-year-old kindergartner. Together we laid hands on Hal and offered up the following words of blessing from the Spirit’s prompting. I would invite each of you to prayerfully read these words as a prayer for Hal and Jean’s glorious new season.
A job well done
Confidence in the work done and the work ahead
The work is not over yet!
Healing for Hal & Jean
Lord, continue to lead them
A sense of abundance
We have many problems, but the Lord will help us
Go out with rejoicing
Joy with grandchildren
God is sovereign
Blessed are the peacemakers
First rest, then adventure
Lots of Fun
You have led well, now you may follow well
One member then read from Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
At the end of the laying on of hands, Hal closed the meeting – as he has closed every meeting in his 32 years – by singing the doxology.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son & Holy Ghost.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.