“Good Byes & Blessings”~ Pastor Dan

August 1, 2012

Visitation Pastor’s Notes


This month we say ‘good-bye’ to Pastor Terry Morse and Martha Morse.Good-byes are not easy. Especially when we are giving them to people who have ‘been there’ for us. Multiply that several times for a pastor and spouse. That is the work we are doing this month of August.

All of us can remember times when a pastor or a godly Christian has made a difference in our lives. Walked with us, showed the way, cleared the path, help lift a load, encouraged us to finish, or just shared the pressure that we felt.

 CONSIDER a few ways that Pastor Terry, Martha, (or some other precious person) has made a difference for your life:

BEING THERE. Sometimes ‘being there’ occurs in the ordinary moments (just another Sunday). Other times it’s those extraordinary moments (a baptism, a wedding, a funeral, an illness, or an un-forgettable conversation). Either way, the presence of folks who care about us makes a difference. For us, for the moment, and for moments thereafter.

POINTING US TO GOD. While a pastor ‘showing up’ is an important action, it is not the most important one. In those moments, a Pastor’s presence points us toward God. Their presence and care is a reminder of God’s presence and care. All of us need reminders of the Holy Love that under-girds us, especially in the painful moments of our living.

SHOWING THE WAY. Pastors remind us as well that we are the People of God. In that sense, they model what we can do for each other and others. “Being there as the People of God” is what we are called to do in God’s world. It is an encouragement when we show each other the ways to do that. When I have watched hospitality teams quietly serving others (and the community) in times of a funeral or a celebration, I see that. Pastors and all of us are encouraged when we see such quiet care.

BEING A GOOD SHEPHERD.Last month I suggested that a good pastor is warm, non-anxious, loving, not allergic to fears, refuses to play God, and loves beyond the usual anxious fears. A good shepherd is not afraid to be that way on a daily basis. Agood-enough shepherd’ will truly point us to the Good Shepherd.

ALL THAT SAID, now comes the hard part, ‘Saying our Good-byes.”‘Good-bye’s can be anxious moments. We feel the separation even before it happens. We anticipate the loss of the presence of this loved person in our life. So we feel empty just thinking about parting. (Some of you may challenge me on this, but all you grandparents are saying, “Right on, Dan”).

We take the word “Good bye” for granted (like so many things in our lives). If you look it up, you will find that ‘good bye’ is an Old English word. Over 500 years ago, that word was actually “godbwye” a contraction of four words — God be with ye.”

GOOD BLESSINGS.At heart then, a “good bye” is a blessing. We wish God’s presence on those who will soon be “absent” from us. When I say “Good Bye” to you, I am saying “may the God, who is love, be with you”. It becomes a double-blessing; however, when you in return say ‘Good Bye” to me, meaning, “May that same loving God be with you also.”

What I have said about Pastor Terry and Martha could be said of some other people in your life as well. It is just that we set Pastors and their spouses apart, both formally and in our minds. They are our very public reminders of all these important Christian meanings and blessings.

WELL DONE.Wishing God’s blessings on a retiring pastor, as we are doing with our Pastor, softens the discomfort somewhat. We know that Terry has completed a full career as a called minister. As the Apostle Paul told the Christians at Philipi, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” So we can celebrate this ‘finish-line” moment. It belongs in some strange way to all of us as God’s people, but uniquely, to Pastor Terry.

BLESSINGS & CELEBRATIONS. When we receive God’s Blessing, we find an amazing new awareness. Namely, that every ending comes with a new beginning packed into it. For God is not just our source of blessing, God is the God of Beginning Again. Every breath, every heartbeat, every moment. Life is a celebration. The tragic moments may take that away for a while. But even tragedy cannot permanently rob us of the Celebration of God’s presence and love.

PASTOR TERRY, MARTHA, Well done. GoodBye. God be with you. Celebrate your blessed finish-line. Enjoy God’s rich Blessing.

May God be in all our New Beginnings,

Pastor Dan Leininger

Visitation Pastor


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