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Goodbye, Hello

Good-bye, Hello

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,   

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

You say, "Yes", I say, "No"

You say, "Stop" and I say, "Go, go, go"

Oh no

You say, "Goodbye" and I say, "Hello, hello, hello"

Paul McCartney

This week we said goodbye to Rhonda Reibach, our Office Manager turned Bookkeeper only.  Rhonda made the important decision to retire fully and be home with her family after more than five years of service with and for us.  Rhonda was the rock that kept the building and us going through the Pandemic.  Now we can bless her to be the rock for her family.  

Let us say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  

And…  this is another loss.  It has been a season of goodbyes and letting go.  Just as we thought the losses of the Pandemic were behind us, we discover some of us need to step back to handle family concerns. Some need to step back due to health changes.  Some are moving, changing jobs, retiring, being deployed.  Some are passing from this world into the next. Each change a threshold filled with goodbyes and hellos.

What do we do when we experience a prolonged season of loss?

First, we take the time to celebrate all that we have experienced together; all the blessings gained, milestones marked, adventures, meals, ministry, moments shared.  All of this we keep regardless of the shifts and distance between us.  Who and What do we have to celebrate? How can we make that happen?

Secondly, we take time to grieve.  Unlike in years past when taking the time to grieve was seen as a distraction at best, and wallowing at worst, people from across the various fields of social sciences and human development have come to understand just how critical grieving is to our resilience.  Some are even saying that the most radical thing we can do as people who work for justice is to take the time to grieve what was, what we wished had been, what we believed we could do or become, as well as the future that is no longer an option.  

When we allow ourselves to celebrate and grieve, we have so much more emotional and spiritual space for the new.  We cannot welcome what is coming if there is no room for it to join us, regardless of how much we might want that to be the case.  

As people who seek to follow Jesus, who some of us call Christ, we are inherently called into the process of death and resurrection.  Eric Law calls this the Cycle of Gospel Living and reminds us that we practice a powerfully transformational way, an eschatological way, a liminal way, a counter-intuitive way that is always becoming and already here.  To live As-If in the Not-Yet is to continually stand in the doorway where change is the norm. Hello, Goodbye.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

As creatures in this creation, we are constantly shedding skin, and hair, and cells to make way for the new ones.  Each cell taking turns in the renewal process, like a relay, to ensure the life of the organism carries on. The Divine Design is filled with this process, and we are constantly being given the opportunity to embrace the Cycle of Gospel Living as we remember, let go, and believe that the resurrection is happening, whether we see it or not.

Rhonda has fully passed the baton to Samantha, who may take a minute to find her stride, but Samantha is ready and able to run her leg of the race.  Others are taking their batons as well.  And whether the hand off is smooth or rocky, there is so much love and care among us which will enable our success.  And our success is simple - practice doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.  Through this practice we will show our love for God and our neighbors.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily distracts. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

May the God who enable us to run the race and not be weary renew us for such a time as this.  And may the great cloud of witnesses who have run the race before us give us strength to keep going, find joy, celebrate, grieve, and be the Body of Christ alive in the world.  May our Goodbyes and Hellos be blessed.

Peace - Pastor Robin

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