On saying goodbye

Today, after more than twenty six years at the same congregation, I said goodbye. There were a lot of tears on many faces, mine included. I won’t quickly process what all of my emotions around those years, and this day. I stood looking out over all those people whose parents, and spouses, and in several cases, whose children I’ve buried. There were many couples whose weddings I officiated, and whose children I baptized; and in several cases, children I had baptized holding children of their own I have had the privilege to baptize.

Over those years, we have offered all of that rich tapestry of life to God in the eucharist, and God has blessed it and returned it to us as the Body and Blood of Christ. I have heard from many of these people that this network of relationship has in some way kept them alive at important times in their life. I have been surprised to hear from colleagues how much my ministry has meant to them. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I entered the ministry, but I think I had an image of the ordained ministry of the church doing grand things. None of what I did was ever grand, but evidently the sustained effect has not been insignificant. I think if I had known what impact I was having on the lives of those around me, I might have been afraid to do anything. I thought we were just having fun, living the life God has given us as the tumble of people a congregation is. Turns out, we were living the divine life.

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