They are leaving this country for another, today: our pastor of almost 19 years, and his wife.
It’s one of the few goodbyes I’ve had to say, and the hardest. Because ties in Christ run deep.
This is the man who married Abigail and Aimee to their grooms. He baptized Millie as an infant and Grammy – water on her gray hairs. He has prayed words of covenant blessing on babies, from the oldest nephew, to the youngest niece, and asked us all, the questions that bound us to the local body.
She is the one who served Millie and I tea nearly every week, over the past few months - our tradition that held us dearer even as we knew they were going. It’s a lot like all relationships should be, I suppose…holding people close, even though you know it will hurt more to lose them.
And truly –the loss is softened by fond memories…how much better it is, than regret. We’ve had our days, been given the blessing, and received the exact number of gifts meant for this season.
There is always this beautiful truth under all sorrow: in everything, we have much to be thankful for. To think it is only, like he prayed, the tip of the ice-berg, and someday we will be together, perfect in Christ. All this that we cherish, without the scent of this world. A thousand fold better.
So we surrender our tears to the King of all things, bitter or sweet.
At the end of his final service - as the last words of a final benediction break off husky with great love – we stand stunned. But the words hang there…and peace be with you. Someone takes heart and says – amen. Our hearts echo. So be it.
And peace indeed, there will be.