By Goodie Bell
I bet you have heard someone say, "I'm not good at saying 'goodbye.'" Perhaps you have even said this yourself. In the last week, I have said a lot of goodbyes: "goodbye" to Young Adults moving for work; "goodbye" to a retired person moving back home; "goodbye" to a child moving with her family. It's not just me. As a congregation, we often have to say, "goodbye."
We live in an age of mobility; people move to new cities easily and often, and the Triangle is a particularly transient area. Many people worship at Blacknall while they study for a degree, complete the next career step, or get a treatment. Then they move on.
I was warned about this when I joined the staff. I could see that folks who had been around longer had a different perspective on all the comings and goings. After six years, I understand why. It stinks to say goodbye to people who have become a familiar, even beloved, presence in life and worship. It stinks to do it again and again. The problem is not just that I'm not good at saying goodbye; I don't like to do it.
Last year the Young Adult Leadership Team reflected on Ephesians chapter 4. At one meeting we asked the question, "What does it mean for us, as Young Adults at Blacknall, to 'grow up in Christ?'" (Eph 4:13). Someone suggested that for our particular group, Christian maturity might mean learning to say goodbye. I think they were on to something--not just for the Young Adults but for our congregation.
As August comes, and we enter this year's "goodbye" season at Blacknall, I have been thinking: How does common faith in Christ inform how we say "goodbye" to one another? What do you think? I come back to three things: Prayer, Mission, and Hope.
Prayer: Christians may keep up via Instagram or email, but we are most connected by the alternative technology of prayer. Prayer not only connects us to God, prayer connects us to one another. We maintain relationship by praying for one another.
Mission: After we say "goodbye," we may find ourselves living and worshipping in very different communities than our old friends. But our connection with brothers and sisters in Christ transcends our present circumstances and personal preferences: we remain part of the same mission to glorify God and bear witness to Jesus Christ.
Hope: We say goodbye to one another in hope that we may, one day, enjoy the presence of God together.
What do you think? How does common faith in Christ inform how we say "goodbye" to one another?
I think that as we learn to say "goodbye," we will become better at saying "hello." Our ability to welcome new people into our part of the body of the Christ is connected to our ability to send off our friends--even when we don't want to.
Blacknall elder Steve Hinkle said, "Being at Blacknall is like ministering to a parade." Do you know what he means? There's a lot of coming and going. The "going" does ask something of us. But on the whole, like a parade, it's a lot of fun!
In it with you, for the sake of Christ,