It is so important in times of transition to thank people who have made valuable contributions to your life. I would like to personally thank Rielly McLaren for these reasons.
1. Thank you for being truthful. Rielly is not a ‘yes man’ that says yes with his lips and no with his heart. He has always made his agreements carefully and wholeheartedly.
2. Thank you for making us think. You have a sharp mind and wise insights into what it means to follow Jesus. You are a student of life and invite us to look in the microscope and the telescope to see what you see. You say unforgettable things.
3. Thank you for making us laugh. Your keen eye for the funniest experiences have helped us laugh at ourselves, but mostly at you. Your infectious laugh is disarming and you give us permission to have a merry heart.
4. Thank you for being vulnerable. When you share your moments of weakness and uncertainty, you help us to bear our own burdens. You give us permission to speak about our struggles and find the path in the wilderness.
5. Thank you for your celibacy. You have taught other singles how to live out a life purposefully without the comfort of a spouse. You have elevated singleness to the gift of God that it is. You have taught those who are married to not assume that singleness means incompleteness.
6. Thank you for honouring the past and moving forward. You have a grateful, inquisitive heart toward the past and the good sense to remind others of where we come from. You are not sentimental and tied to past movements of God at work, but mindful of their place in our spiritual formation. We know that you secretly like putting on clerical gowns and have a tall priest hat in your closet. We also know that you like to pound kettle drums feverishly as part of your worship.
7. Thank you for modelling family to us. Getting to know Randall, Guy and Lynne helped us see your history more clearly. Your open affection and tenderness for family taught us about loving our own families. We watched the comfort of their moving to Windsor and the sadness of their moving away for work. You demonstrated good characteristics of being a son and a brother.
8. Thank you for wanting things to be right in the world. Your work as a chaplain has taught us to have empathy for victims and compassionate justice toward oppressors. You have been a friend to the lion teaching them to lie down peacefully. You have taught lambs how to overcome fears and find a voice that keeps the lions from devouring them.
9. Thank you for loving God’s Word. You have looked at the Scriptures with curious eyes and a listening heart. You have not been led astray by the blind who only see darkness in the pages. You have not echoed the babblings of those who are deaf to the Spirit’s voice.
10. Thank you for being one of our pastors. We trust you to listen, see into our souls and offer good counsel, empathy and encouragement. You are worthy of double honour and remain in high regard.
There are more things to thank him for, such as number eleven. Thank you for the fashion tips (suspenders, caps and various beard formations) but time is short. Moving on…