"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Passings (moved)

Give to the departed eternal rest.

Today, with the people of my former parish, in a place I once thought would be my church home forever, I said good-bye to a saint, a dear lady who graced the church militant with her gentle humor and unending optimism, who this week joined the church triumphant.

It would have been enough of a good-bye, or rather a 'fare-well sweet sister' had it not been in such a poignant location, among a people I loved and lost, had it not been in such a time when I again am faced with loving and losing. I know that I shall see my dear sister again, but not as soon as I would like, not with the easy access we once had when our worship was in the same place and our Christian family so immediate and close. I shall see her again, but I do not know when. Anne Gross, rest in peace... until we meet again.

But it was more poignant then and there... life is like a little death now. To step into the church, and remember when I was their deacon, when they were my people... how we lived our lives and shared our faith journey together. How I don't see them so readily now, how the place is not home to me. How I can never return there, though of course the awkward moment when one dear lady asked me if I might someday come back always has to take place, doesn't it?

And since I left there, I've already left another place, a place I visited last week on a joyful occasion, only to realize that it would be the last time I would celebrate such joys with these people and still be in the same church (that is church with a little c, for they will always be my brothers and sisters in the Christian family). I could feel a separation between us, like the veil that goes between life and death, only in this it was merely between one life and another.

And in all this, I know I am leaving again. I know I won't be able to remain long where I am. I know the choices we are making will again divide me from the people I now love and serve. (Twice in one year is truly too much.)

And yet, in confidence, I know I shall see them all again. When we are not accessible to one another, we are still part of one another, and through it all, God gives promise that his children will again be together. And so, while so much is perishing, there is new life. It is hard to see, but I know it is there. I've had so many conversations recently centered around the dying part, let's not forget the living. And though we may be more absent from one another than we may like, dear friends do not let me be gone from you and let us indeed see one another again.

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