Goodbyes and Farewells

Last week, I found myself saying goodbye to those in my congregation at UniPlace Christian Church where I had been serving as an outreach community minister for the past two years. As I find myself excited to be transitioning into my next call of becoming a hospital chaplain, saying goodbye to those who have been part of my church community for the past two years was difficult.

Even though we live in a world where we can stay in contact with others through social media, we still experience grief when we part ways with those who worked with us every day to serve a greater good.

While scripture isn’t exactly clear on the different directions Jesus disciples took after he addressed them for the final time before his ascension into heaven, we do know he tasked his disciples with the instruction to “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19).

For Jesus disciples who spent three years traveling with him, there must have been an array of different emotions they experienced not only after Jesus departed from them, but after they went their separate ways to carry on the ministry Jesus called them to do. And after three years of experiencing the emotional life, death, resurrection, and radical ministry of Jesus Christ together first as strangers but later as brothers, it was time for them to go their separate ways.

As May marks a season of new beginnings for students who graduate from high school and college where they prepare to take the knowledge and wisdom they received from their teachers out into the world, many of them will experience sadness saying goodbye to their classmates with whom they have studied and soon will go in separate ways.

While graduation or a new job may cause us to go our separate ways with others, we are called to cherish the relationships we formed and the memories we shared. And for our Christian sisters and brothers, we leave behind, we will continue to work together for a common good; sharing Christ’s love to others while working to bring peace and social justice to our world.

In the meantime amidst our farewells and tears, we must cherish the memories we made, honor our commitments to stay in touch, and remember in the worlds of A.A. Mine “how lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Christopher L. Schilling is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), hospital and Air Force chaplain, and a freelance writer.