[Written by Garrett Greer]
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. —Philippians 1:3-5
When I came to Cross Creek I was still finishing up my senior year of college at Samford, I didn’t know Gracie, and I’d just began to really act on God’s call to ministry in my life. I remember my first day of youth group in the Lovoy’s breezeway back in Ross Bridge. After what seemed like lots of phone calls and emails, we had six kids show up, and I’d picked up three pizzas and Jason had picked up three, so we had one pizza per student. Remembering that first day I’m encouraged by the growth not only in numbers, but in our lives and in the lives of our students. In the last six plus years we’ve seen the church move buildings, go through Covid and a flood, and I’ve gotten to mature (a bit) alongside our students as well.
And thinking about leaving has been really hard for both me and Gracie. We think we’ve been called to serve in a community where the gospel isn’t as easy to find, but trying to make sure that’s really God’s will is hard. We’ve spent a lot of time in prayer, lots of good walks around Bluff Park, talking over what it means to leave Cross Creek and step into the relative unknown, and we’re still quite unsure about what our next steps look like. But all of that aside, I’m encouraged that leaving is so hard, because it means that our time here has been really good.
Most of the New Testament is a series of letters from believers in similar circumstances—wishing to be with the people (or often churches) they were writing to but not physically being in the same place anymore. In the above verses from Philippians, Paul is writing to a church to express how thankful he feels when he remembers their time together and how they’ve both grown together. We think the church at Philippi was the first church Paul planted in Europe, and in these verses you can feel his memories extending back to those earlier years and his first days there as well, overflowing with love for Christians he has known that fill his “prayer with joy.” I’m certainly not the apostle Paul or even anything close, but I can relate a bit as I can’t say thank you enough for the ways we’ve been poured into and encouraged in this church home. From meals together, to countless Bible studies, to getting to serve your kids—thank you.
Despite Paul’s absence from Philippi, he was still encouraged because in verse six he tells them that, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” I know the same is true about our time at Cross Creek and what God is doing in this church and in this community. As much as it wasn’t Paul who began a good work among the Philippians, it’s also anyone one of us who does the real work at Cross Creek–it has always been and always will be the Lord. And that work of gospel-centered sanctification will be brought to completion.
As we look back “from the first day until now,” we are sad to go, but also excited to continue to serve the Lord and serve the larger church just in a different place. I’m excited because that means a new opportunity for Cross Creek to grow through a new person and their gifts, and I’m excited because we know that what God is doing at Cross Creek won’t stop, but that he’ll bring it to completion.