Yesterday we said “good-bye” to one of our clergy, the Rev. Timothy Jones who is moving to Columbia, South Carolina to be the Rector at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. We are sad to see him leave but also know that he will be warmly greeted with a “Hello” at the new location where God has called him.
We had a wonderful reception at the church, but it was still hard to say good-bye. By their nature, good-byes involve something coming to an end, a death of sorts. It is an end before we want it to end. It is our human nature to cling to the life and relationships that we already have because they are comfortable and we know them well. A new life with new people is a huge “unknown” that makes us feel vulnerable. Life seems like an endless series of deaths; we all want new life, but we don’t want to go through death to get there.
Jesus was good at saying good-bye. Of the twenty-one chapters in John’s Gospel, five are devoted to Jesus saying good-bye. The sheer volume tells us that “good-byes” are important. What if we had a greater faith in this area? Instead of looking at good-byes as an end of a relationship, what if we viewed it as an opportunity to express our hope in a far greater future, a foretaste of the wonderful life that awaits us? It is like pruning a tree where it is necessary to prune some of the new, sweet growth in order to allow the tree to be sturdy and flourish with new growth.
We take great comfort in the one thing that we never have to say good-bye to: God’s love. Nothing can separate us from the love of God even when we feel pain at the loss of our earthly loves. God will never forsake us and Jesus’ resurrection has put an end to final good-byes. Those who trust in the Lord never say good-bye for the last time.
Good-bye, Father Tim. I value your preaching, teaching, leadership, and counsel over the past 4-1/2 years.
Until we meet again!
Blessings, my friend,