“What’s Next?” I say this a lot, but like most brilliant thinkers, I didn’t think of it, I stole it.
This week there were a lot of ends for me. Some very personal, remembrances and attempts at reconciliation and /or letting go of burdens, it’s a dance, this thing called life. Others were professional.
I wrapped up my work with UNCO after last week’s East gathering, (again thanks to all who made that possible) and rotated off the board. The organization has been my family and lifeline in a time I needed purpose most. After I ship off a few boxes of stuff, I will be complete in the leadership of that organization for a while.
Today I confirmed 6 beautiful and growing confirmands wrapping up our sessions that fed me and gave me life on Sunday mornings and evenings. Graduations happened this weekend and parties are being attended to say “good luck on the next phase of your life”.
I also say goodbye (well the church I serve did) to our Christian Educator, Katie, of almost 8 years. She is a good friend and will continue to be, she was a wonderful colleague and I am so proud her pastoral counseling career has taken off!
However, I’m a bit like President Barlett in this clip about it all. A little grouchy and a lot tired. There have been more than a few tears about it all.
As I prayed about the ending this week I focued on my words to say goodbye. The ritual, the acknowledgments. I struggled with the prayers and the liturgy to say goodbye today for Katie , and I did what was most appropriate, I prayed the prayer from the PC(USA)’s Book of Occasional Services for when a pastor leaves (even though she is not “officially” a pastor). It stresses that things are left unfinished when anyone leaves. That there were expectations had, but not met and now… never will be.
I remember the last time I heard this read. I was standing in Bethany Presbyterian Church in New York and it was me saying goodbye. As I read the words for Katie through cracking and shaky voice I remember the weight of responsibility that I felt when they were said for me. I realized at that moment, and was reminded again today, that we are meant to be unfinished.
God called me away from that place before my work was done, and I didn’t like it, but that wasn’t the point. God was telling me to move on, because the work was not “mine”, the point is that it’s God’s work.
As Barlett for America’s staff in the clip are talking about the election and how it’s going to be won Bartlett gets mad, he’s the candidate, it’s about him, right? No, his staff is reminding him that it’s not. He’s frustrated because he cannot control the “something larger”. The people have the say, and how the people get convinced is complex, it takes time, money, strategy. When you put something so important, so vital into the hands of others we get scared.
So why harp on it? Why acknowledge in the liturgy that things were left unfinished, that expectations were not met?
To do just that.
To acknowledge that we are unfinished. To acknowledged that the work is God’s and not ours as an individual, we are hands and feet for a time and a place, a long tenure or just a few moments. Once we acknowledge that, we can let go, and lead on somewhere else.
So… What’s Next?
This post is a part of the UNCO synchroblog. May’s them is “UnFinished”. You can read the other posts in the series here.