Pastor’s Corner (07/25/19)
After saying farewell to them, he went up to the mountain to pray. Mark 6:46
After feeding the multitude, Jesus says farewell to the crowd and goes off to a mountain to pray. Undoubtedly, he was tired and ready for some rest and renewal. It must have been difficult for the crowd to say goodbye and see him leave, but it was time for him to move on. One of the most challenging facets of life together is saying goodbye. Inevitably, we have to say goodbye to those we love. As we move to the end of this month we come closer to an important transition in our life here at FCC. At the end of July, Cheryl Judds will retire. Cheryl has been our Administrative Assistant for almost 16 years. She has been a constant and stable force during all kinds of change. Pastors have come and gone, and so have parishioners, but Cheryl has been a steady and reliable presence. Perhaps it is that reality, and her gracious presence, that make saying goodbye all the more difficult. Amidst all of this we are also aware of this important transition for her; she is retiring to spend more time with family. As we grieve for our loss we celebrate with her. It is time for her, and us, to move on.
Joyce Rupp in her book Praying Our Goodbyes reminds us that the word “goodbye” is a short form of the phrase “God be with ye.” As we bid Cheryl goodbye we will take time in worship on July 28 to express our hope and belief that God will be with her as she makes this transition. We also express the belief that God will be with us, too. As Rupp’s book also reminds us, saying goodbye stirs up a wide variety of feelings. Every goodbye involves a journey through grief. The standard journey of grief involves 5 basic stages as laid out by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her groundbreaking book Death and Dying. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are those 5 stages. While the death of a loved one is the most dramatic form of this journey, saying goodbye to someone we have come to love and cherish also involves movement through these stages.
I have to say that when Cheryl shared her plans with me during Lent this year, I moved quickly through denial and bargaining (I was hoping I had not heard her correctly). As the Personnel Committee and I moved through the search process I have to confess that there was a little anger and depression. However, these feelings didn’t last long as I accepted, and celebrated, this new chapter in her life. This process is made easier when the person leaving is moving on to something joyous and exciting. However, it is important to acknowledge the full range of our feelings as we move closer to saying our goodbyes. Often saying goodbye stirs up experiences of past losses, making this process a bit challenging. But in acknowledging all of this we become better able to truly embrace the journey and eventually more able to share our joy.
I hope you can join us for worship on July 28 as we say “God be with ye” to Cheryl and celebrate her wonderful ministry with us here at FCC. If you are unable to join us for worship and our time with her in our coffee fellowship following the service, I hope you’ll take some time to thank her and wish her God’s speed as she moves into this new chapter in her life. We can be confident that God goes with her, and remains with us, as we say goodbye.
In love and hope,