This will be my first time to retire. I have moved to new churches. Even moved from a local church to a district responsibility. But I haven’t moved from “church” to home. Some things will be the same; some things about retiring will be different.
Saying good-bye will be expectedly hard. Remaining in the area, will be different. Leaving a church family I have come to know, enjoy and care for will be sadly familiar. Not moving to a new community in a pastoral role, will be different.
Transitions are never easy; however, they are an integral part of the United Methodist “itinerate” system. It is so woven into our DNA as Methodists, that we have even developed traditions regarding these baton hand offs. Over my next several pastoral letters, I want us to consider together the steps in healthy parting and welcoming.
Step One: Appreciating the Moment
In any change it is common to “move on” become anxious about “what’s coming,” worry about what we will miss, what will change… Occasionally, looking ten steps ahead, we miss the one in front of us. As Jesus said, “do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Healthy transitions come when we appreciate the present. This includes recalling shared memories, savoring the journeys taken together and affirming the fruit of our work. We can encourage one another, stay balanced in the present and savor this time.
Waiting in the “in-between” isn’t easy. And yet “in-between” time is precious. We learn how to be present without an agenda, tasks to perform or seeking to control what comes next. To some degree, it is what our life in community should allow on a regular basis. Appreciating each moment as a gift opens us to the holy, the divine invitation. May this holy season be full, heartfelt and surrounded with gratitude for the God who accompanies us.
Steps 2 and 3 to follow