This coming Sunday I will celebrate my 10th year anniversary as Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. All I can think about this week are the people who have made such a positive difference in my life. I think about those people who joined the church over the last ten years. They mean so much to me. I think of those leaders in the church who persevered as we made changes and tried to open the doors (and heart) of our congregation. I think of friends who cared about me — genuinely, honestly, beautifully — cared about me. I think of staff members who journeyed with me, especially Susan Leary who has been my partner every step of the way. I think of Marti Colglazier who helped me so much. I think of my kids who stayed in touch with me, even though I was living thousands of miles from them. I think of my friends, Jerry and Diane Zehr, who stayed in touch with me and loved me and helped me over the course of my ministerial career. I think of the great board chairpersons — both trustees and deacons — who helped navigate very choppy waters of change at First Church. I think of the children who brought smiles to my face each week as I watched them come up for the Children’s Sermon. I think of Jonathan Talberg, my dear friend, who brought great music to us Sunday after Sunday. I even think of those people who were critical and complained about this or that at the church, people who were wrestling more with their own demons than anything happening or not happening in the congregation. And yes, I think of old friends, friends who have known me for a long time, and their love and support has meant so much. I think of my new wife, Alexandra Paxton, and the many ways she quietly supports me and offers kindness upon kindness upon kindness. I am filled with gratitude today for people. I am humbled by the number of people who have quietly lifted me up again and again. Being a minister is not easy. I’m not saying it’s harder than other professions; I’m just saying that it’s not easy. The number of ministers who leave the church during their first five years of ministry is staggering. It’s not easy. I have made mistakes. I have tried things that didn’t work. I have often miscalculated this or that situation. I’ve written some bad blog posts and preached a few clunker sermons. Any success I’ve had, any joy and fulfillment I’ve discovered, has been made possible because of the generosity of others. I’m not talking about just the last ten years; I’m talking about a lifetime. And so, dear friends, if you are interested at all, I’m here to tell you that I’m taking a breath today, and I’m looking forward to seeing a few of you this coming Sunday, but most of all I’m taking a breath, because like all the people who have made a difference in my life, breath is a gift. You are a gift. Life is a gift. And I am grateful.