“I thank my God every time I remember you.” ~Philippians 1:3
This seems like such a trite verse – so overused that it has somehow lost its true meaning. But yesterday, I was reminded of what a great gift this verse is. This morning, I had to say “see ya later” to a man who has become a very good friend in a rather short period of time. Some of you know Will Starkweather – for those of you who don’t know him, I pray that you have a chance to run into him sometime in your life. I first met Will about a year ago, at Affirm 2008. I didn’t know much about him then, but exchanged laughter with him on our caravaned trip out to Alabama and while we were there. When I was offered, and accepted, the job at LCR I soon discovered that Will would turn out to be one of my most loyal volunteers and more importantly, one of my very best friends. He and I became community to one another. We shared life together.
Tomorrow morning Will leaves Georgia to go to Luther Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota. Don’t get me wrong – I am excited for him – I am excited for him to embark on this journey towards ordained ministry. And I am so proud of him for answering God’s call and being faithful, even in the midst of uncertainty. But at the same time, I will deeply miss him. Over the last year, Will was a true friend to me when I thought I had no true friends. He reminded me that I had strength to get through some of the toughest times in my life so far. And he dared me to dream, to jump, and to love. He encouraged me, and challenged me, to dig in to my faith when times got rough. He helped me explore the musical talent I kept hidden for so long. He spent hours with me at Starbucks and Caribou dreaming about children & youth ministry, the future of the church, and what our lives might look like five years from now.
Will Starkweather, this is a tribute to you. To who you, to who you are becoming, and to who God has created you to be. I am forever grateful for the friendship that we have found, and more importantly for the true community that we have experienced together. Luther Seminary is very lucky to have you. I am sad to see you go, but will be your biggest cheerleader all along the way. I love you my friend. And yes, it’s true, I do indeed thank my God everytime I remember you.