This Sunday we say farewell to our beloved pastor of six years – Pastor Bob. Our very own Ron Jessee is coordinating a beautiful farewell service, giving thanks for the time that we have benefited from Bob’s leadership. It would be irresponsible, however, if we fail to acknowledge our final Sunday together will be tinted with sadness. Within the joy and the gratitude we express, there will also be heartache.
Expressing gratitude is sacred, but so is sitting with our grief.
We will be visiting many passages of Scripture this Sunday. But in preparation for this upcoming Sunday, we will consider the closing portion of 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 13:11-13 (CEB)
Finally, brothers and sisters, good-bye. Put things in order, respond to my encouragement, be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you. Say hello to each other with a holy kiss. All of God’s people say hello to you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
The itinerancy system of the Methodist tradition is both a blessing and a bane. It can be grievous to say goodbye to a pastor we wanted to stay. It can be troublesome to encounter yet another disruption amid a global pandemic. To acknowledge such pain and feel it deeply is a holy act.
Yet as Christians, we know that such goodbyes are not ultimate goodbyes. Whether on this mortal plane or the next, we will meet again. PB UMC is a better congregation for having Bob’s leadership, and a part of him will stay with us.
And the associated blessing is not far off! Next week we will greet our new pastor, called just as much as our former yet bringing her own new and beautiful giftedness to our congregation. In the sorrow of this season, we can trust in this coming sweetness.
Furthermore, the people of God are not monolithic; and we are not as separate as it may seem. Our practices and our faith connect us not only to United Methodism and Protestantism, but to all of our spiritual ancestors who have named the name of Christ. As Paul wrote, “All of God’s people say hello to you.” May we remember these lessons for many Sundays to come.
Consider these questions:
- Think of your last memorable parting. Were you given the opportunity to say goodbye? Was it sudden or unexpected?
- How do you see yourself as connected to others: to the church, to the United Methodist Church, to the community, to Christians across the globe?
- What emotions are you experiencing in this time of change, and how can you sit with them as being holy?