Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church friends: Although I will continue to write “Fry on Friday,” after November 17th I will no longer send it to you. If you wish to continue to read my writings after that date, you may find them at https://fryonfriday.wordpress.com/.
Even on the bad days, I’ve never imagined doing anything else but being a pastor of a church. This church.
Preaching is part of the job. Some weeks it’s the very best part The ideas flow naturally and I can’t wait until Sunday morning. Some sermons, however are like C-sections, all mechanics and sweat and hard work.
About a month after we started worship services, I realized that I had already run out of things to preach. You allowed me to make a fool of myself in Children’s Sermons with the implication, “Just let us laugh at you; that’ll be enough.”
Then you gave me the gift of time. Time to study the scripture, read, reflect, search for something to say week after week in a desperate attempt to answer the ceaseless question, “What shall I preach about next Sunday?”
You gave me time for the preparation behind my sermons; you let me find God in the scriptures and in my studies. This has shaped my soul.
Occasionally while delivering a sermon, I would suddenly be aware of how quiet and motionless the room had become. “My God!” I would think briefly, “They’re actually listening!” Those moments were holy because I knew it was not me you were listening to, but the word of God for us that day. “People hear the sermon they need to hear,” we preachers sometimes say to each other, “not the one we intended to preach.” I don’t know if you heard the message I intended to preach, but what you heard was at least preached through me, and that was a gift from you. And God.
Every once in a while, you’d quote me. “I remember something you preached five years ago that really made a difference,” you’d say, and follow that with a story. And that was the best gift of all: you have allowed me to make a difference here, a difference to you.
You gave me time to prepare to preach, and you gave me yourselves. You opened up your lives to me, giving me the opportunity to also see God in you.
Sometimes it was beautiful, as you spoke your vows in a wedding ceremony or as you presented your child to God in the sacrament of baptism or when you affirmed in front of God and everybody, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” Sometimes it was beautiful beyond words.
Sometimes it was awful. The phone call from the ER nurse that said, “We have a couple whose 3-year-old child has just died unexpectedly. They’ve asked you to come.” On the worst day of your life, you have invited me to be present. Who am I to walk such holy ground? God is present in you, in tough times. For you to allow me to be in the room and share that presence was a priceless gift.
For countless plates of Christmas goodies: cookies, fudge, cheese sticks, pecans, home-made breads…and in 32 years, not a single fruitcake.
It has been a privilege to be your pastor, to serve this church, and to take my place as part of this community of faith called Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church. Thank you.
After founding Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, GA., in 1985 and serving as the head of staff for 32 years, Dr. Dave Fry retired from full time ministry this week of November 12. Please keep him and his wife Debbie and the church in your prayers as they both see what God has in store for them next on this journey of faith.