How quickly the three years of my curacy have passed; the warm welcome and generosity shown to me, Sean and Alexander will be one of the cornerstones of my future ministry; how grateful I am to have belonged to a kind and loving community that has nurtured me, respected me, and allowed me the space to be me.
Saying goodbye always, understandably, sounds final. Goodbye means something is going to change. Goodbye marks an ending. But as with all endings, comes a new beginning, however difficult that may be. I prefer to think of goodbye is not so much a final destination, as a journey. Perhaps other words are better to use – auf wiedersehen, farewell, au revoir.
And yet, goodbye is perhaps more appropriate in church life than anywhere else as a greeting. It is a contraction of an ancient form of greeting – God be with you. A blessing; trusting that God will guide those embarking on their journey and keep safe those who are staying behind. Paul always prayed for those to whom he bid farewell and so as I take my leave of you, know that this community that has loved me, formed me in my priestly ministry, encouraged me, prayed for me and taught me so much, will remain in my prayers.
May God be with you always, ‘our marvellous God whose gracious Word can make you into what God wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends’. (Acts 20:32)