One of my first supervisors and mentors, on the last Sunday before his retirement shared the following story with the congregation:
‘There is an old story about a minister leaving a church. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage one of the pillar members, “Don’t be so sad. The next minister might be better than me.” She replied, “That’s what they said last time, but it keeps getting worse.”
His light-hearted, unpretentious way of saying goodbye to a church that he had pastored for more than twenty years and loved deeply, really spoke to me and made me think.
On the other hand, an older colleague and good friend of mine, many years ago told me: “My prayer for you is that, wherever you go, you will dare to love so much that leaving feels like dying.’
The act of saying “goodbye” is one of the few constants in my life, but I can see that, in this case, practice doesn’t make perfect. I still struggle to find the right balance between being overly melodramatic and ignoring or trying to cover up my sadness.
July has been awash with goodbyes, more goodbyes will follow in August. As Rev. Sue retires, Rev. Matt takes up his first appointment as a Methodist minister and I move on, I would like to share with you one of my favourite quotes from the Sufi poet, Rumi: “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
The people I have ministered to in the Manchester Circuit over the past five years, will remain in my thoughts and heart.
Blessings and best wishes,