So this morning, with heavy and thankful hearts we said goodbye to the vicar who had been with us this past year. We wished him and his family the best in the future.
It is so hard to say goodbye.
Just when you feel that you've made deeper connections.
When you realize that these are people with whom you've shared celebrations and struggles....then you realize that he must leave. He'll return to seminary for a final year of classroom instruction and begin the process of preparing for assignment and first call.
Here's a comment from this morning that stuck with me.
"We can't have any more vicars. I just can't get to know a new one and then have to say goodbye again."
And so is true, not just in the life of the church as pastors come and go and congregations embrace, love and send. But so it is with life as well, right?
Even in the life of a congregation we have said goodbye as families move. We say goodbye when we gather to mourn the loss of a loved one. We say goodbye as our youth graduate, head off to college and pursue life outside of Berks county. And we say hello....we welcome families into our midst in worship, at Vacation Bible School, through fellowship nights, the circus and a parade.
We welcome the young and old into the Body of Christ through the waters of baptism. We extend an open invitation to all to come to the Lord's Table for bread and wine.
More than we'd like to admit, we are saying goodbye and hello.
I mean think about it. Is your family or community or work place the same now as it was, say 5 years ago? How about 10? There's a good chance that you have had to say goodbye to people. Some have moved and some have been called to their eternal home...but you've said goodbye. And as well, you've said hello....maybe your family has grown with children, grandchildren or in-laws. In any case, you've had the opportunity to say hello and welcome in people.
Just because this is always happening, doesn't make it any easier. You see, when you open your heart, your life and your home to others....you will be changed. Your life will be different. And when it's time to say goodbye, it's hard. The Indigo Girls say it well in their song All That We Let In
"Well, I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in."
So get ready for some new hellos...maybe today, maybe tomorrow or sometime in the future, because they will come.
And get ready for some goodbyes, because, they too will happen.
The only constant in life is change.
Maybe folks in Hawaii have it right. Aloha = hello or goodbye. That way...it may be a hello or it may be a goodbye. Who knows?
One thing I do know, though, is that I'm thankful to be part of a community of faith. It's a place where I am forgiven, loved and supported. It's a place that allows me to experience hellos and goodbyes with joy and nervousness and tears and sorrow. It's a place that reminds me that Christ is in the middle of all if it with us, no matter what. And sometimes that's the only place comfort can be found in the midst of life's hellos and goodbyes.
So for those who are saying goodbye this day....Christ is with you.
And for those who are saying hello this day...Christ is with you.
You are not alone.
You are loved.