Somebody stood in line this past Sunday to tell me they wouldn’t be here for my final Sunday, and then said, “But I am not saying ‘Goodbye.’ I’m saying ‘See you around.’” It was hard even for her to look me in the eye.  It’s true, we might bump into each other, he and I, but goodbyes are important and if we avoid them we miss out on something powerful.

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Jesus thought saying Goodbye was so important, four chapters in the Gospel of John - in what we call the Farewell Discourse -  are devoted to preparing the disciples for his absence.  In that discourse, he instructs them to “love one another, as I have loved you” and then to carry that love out into the world.

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We must feel all the feelings, the hard ones, the painful ones, the powerless ones along with the joyous and fun ones. We must acknowledge endings when they happen.  When I leave Christ Church, it marks the end of a pastoral relationship.  A pastoral relationship is unique. We were brought together by God (along with some help from Pierce and the search committee). When I was commissioned, it was my charge to love you and serve you to the best of my ability and to the glory of God. It was my charge to engage with you in ministry that would help bring in the reign of God. We have laughed together and we have cried together and we have made a difference in the world together. We have done it in the name and spirit of Christ and it is in that same way that we will say Goodbye. And God will lead me somewhere else where my pastoral gifts will be used and God will bring you new pastors. God is always in the middle of it and God is always making things new. But before they can be new, some things must die.  And that is sad. “Blessed are those who mourn,” says Jesus in his first sermon.

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We need to get good at saying goodbye. Loss – any loss  -  is to be felt fully and deeply because it expands our ability to love. When we accept that heartbreak is just part of this human experience, it actually makes the heart stronger and more flexible.  And then we are able to love one another more fully and deeply and then take that love out into the world which so desperately needs it. Will it be hard? You bet. Will I feel lost without this community? Yes, for a while, I will. But the beloved community of Christ Church will go on being the beloved community and I will find other communities to love and serve.

Be well. Do God’s work. Have fun and feel all the feelings.

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