I’m here. I can now say that with a little more confidence than I could two weeks ago. There are fewer boxes (though my office is still a work in progress). I had a very helpful on-boarding experience with the staff and Claire Bowen. I’ve sipped lemonade, eaten barbecue, and enjoyed cookies with some of you, and I’ve attended some helpful meetings and had some meaningful conversations. I kind of know how to find places in our buildings, and I now have my very own Emory Card, which makes me feel very official and slightly empowered.

I’m here. This is my place of service and ministry now. This is where my heart is. This is the place and you the people that occupy my thoughts and prayers and sometimes my dreams and nightmares. Here is where I will discover a new chapter in God’s call. Now, what story will that chapter tell? I know pieces of it, but there is still a lot of blank space to fill in. I’m having fun imagining.

Here, of course, is where you are, too, even though two out of three conversations seem to begin with, “We’re going to be out of town for a few weeks, but …” It’s that time of year when our paths cross and diverge, but I know you’re here, even when you aren’t. This is your church, your community; this is where you find the family of God for you or your family. Here is where you encounter God and find grace to move through your days. You were here before I ever came on the scene, and you are the life of this church. You are the body of Christ. And you are why I’m here. I have come to serve with you and move with you through life and its moments.

Which is to say: Here we are. Together we are Glenn Church, Glenn Memorial, Glenn Memorial UMC -- choose the appellation you prefer, because they’re all us. Together we will seek God’s blessings; together we will BE God’s blessings for each other, our neighbors, and the world. It all begins in our worship, in our singing, in our explorations of the Scriptures, in our prayers, and it moves from there to our homes and into our communities. We share a life, a calling, a faith that define us. This life we share is filled with the Holy Spirit and enveloped and defined by the love of Jesus Christ.

That life, strange and miraculous, ours, is here. It’s here in the amazing Little Chapel and the magnificent sanctuary. It’s here in the YAAB, all spruced up for new ministry; it’s here in our classrooms and gathering spaces; it’s here when we meet and share together.

But here’s the interesting thing about … here. Here is wherever you are right now as you read this. Here is in the Bahamas next week as 45 of us go to serve with and among the people there. Here is a remarkable place, really -- always right now in this moment, always a space of grace, always us, wherever we are. We are here, and here is us.

It’s a good place to be -- here -- a holy place. I thank God I am here with you.

Rev. Mark Westmoreland