This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, April 22, 2022
This week’s writing may come as quite a disappointment. I don’t mean that with any intention of self-deprecation or false modesty. I only mean that, perhaps like me, there’s been a sense of approaching the last edition of these musings with expectation, hope, maybe desire for some grand summary reflection. I don’t think anything like that could come from me right now – probably not ever. I’m also not sure it exists.
Where I’ve landed instead, and what you will see and hear more of on Sunday morning, is a humble retreat to the simplest words I know. At times I’ll be appealing to the beautiful wisdom of A.A. Milne and his Winnie the Pooh, but far more so I’ll be thinking of and calling on Jesus’ words to us, as recorded in John’s Gospel, offering peace; beautiful, incomparable peace. I’m thinking of the words from the author of Revelation (yes, Revelation is on deck this week, thank you lectionary), offering more peace, coupled with grace. Together, their phrases are short and clear, and I hear them as prayers. Amid so much change, tucked into the same short period of time, I find myself clinging to these ancient prayers and promises: grace and peace. When I know not what else to do, what to say, or how to be heard, I pray for grace and peace. Even when I don’t know how to describe them, I feel them… and I press forward.
These last seven years, you have read and heard so much from me. I started writing to you, in this weekly way, about four months into our time together, in September of 2015. I took a risk that maybe you’d like an extra window into the Sunday worship, or the week that had been, in our congregational life or my family life or both, in their inevitably intertwined way. It wasn’t always natural or easy to open with the same old line, but ‘This week’ kept me focused on the present moments. ‘Dear Friends’ was the most natural thing in the world. In a community of Jesus-followers, we are given the holy calling to be siblings in Christ. Friends, in a capitalized, familial way, seems the next best extension. I’ve strived to be your minister, not your bestie, and I pray we’ve established some sort of God-honouring relationship along the way.
One of the hardest pieces to work through with any ministry departure is the wondering about when and how we will be connected in the future. It’s a unique truth (maybe weird to the world) that when ministers leave a community, we move through a process of de-covenanting. We recognize the finite nature of our connection, even as we celebrate an enduring bond for the time we shared together. We release ourselves from this place of service and ask the congregation to do the same. The release includes a change in who we are to one another. You will, in time, have a new minister and build new and beautiful memories with them. In the meantime, I will immerse myself in the gifts God is giving to Christ First UC and me, and we will all press forward into what and whom we don’t yet know.
And so, while I write this on Friday, with anticipation of Sunday, I don’t yet know how that day will feel. I can guess it will be layered. I do know, however, that I am exceedingly grateful for the hello and goodbye that it will be. With Baptism, Confirmation, Receiving New Members, and then a mutual farewell, it will be a time of full circle. The movement of our lives is the full circle of God’s gentle, faithful love. Round and round we go, with the extraordinary gift of having shared some of this ride together.
Thank you for saying yes to it all. Thank you, for everything.
Grace and peace, and abiding love to you all,
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
(A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh)