This weekend we are saying a fond farewell to our pastor. It's been a rough semester at Faith UMC, actually. In November, our other pastor applied for medical leave because of his heart, and at the end of January was finally granted it. This prompted renewed fears that our other pastor would also be re-assigned.
For those of you not familiar with this system, in the United Methodist church, the pastor is appointed to a local church by the bishop, usually starting July 1. Each year pastors are either kept in their current churches or moved at the will of the bishop. Generally, the wishes of both parties are taken into account. If the pastor wants to stay and the church wants to have him or her back, the bishop generally decides not to mess with a good thing. Our current bishop, however, has gotten quite a few folks angry with him by ignoring the wishes of the churches and their pastors. In our case, we both wanted him to continue--the bishop moved him anyhow.
Since November, when the pastor told the staff in confidence that he was applying for leave, through the 1st of February, when he left, through the period when all pastors in our denomination get nervous waiting for their assignments, through the time when we heard we were losing our other pastor, until now, when he is leaving, and still for a few more weeks as we wait for our new pastor and she makes the transition with us--that's a long time for a church to be in transition. I used to kind of like some change as an antidote to same old boredom, but this is a little excessive.
Meanwhile, there have been plenty of other changes. Besides the spate of television personalities quitting their old jobs--hey, don't short-change that one. Anybody who has been on the air for over three decades and then leaves creates a hole, even if you didn't watch their show much in recent years. Besides, I had a friend who said he would "cry like a baby" when Letterman aired his last show. I wasn't around to see if he actually did.
Colbert left his own show after 9 years to replace him. Then Stewart announced he is leaving. Have I left anybody out?
I don't know any of those folks personally. I can't say I know my car personally, either, but it is going to great traffic jam in the sky in the next week. It's a '97 and the brakes failed. I was going to pay for the repair, which was already expensive, but then they found more problems and the cost seemed unworthit for a car that was likely to keep developing expensive problems as it continued to age. So I decided to cut bait now and donate the vehicle to my public radio station.
I have a very personable cat that has lived with us for 16 years. He has bone cancer. We are going to have to put him down in the next week or two. It's not easy to think about this. Another farewell.
I could have lost my father a couple of months ago, too. Fortunately, when he went in for a routine Angiogram doctors found two severe blockages and put in stents instead of the open heart surgery they were contemplating. That would have been the biggest adjustment of all, and I'm glad I don't have to make it yet. Dad still has many cups of coffee in his future, we hope--just not so many at a time!
Three of these changes all occur this week. The old is passing away. That's always true; it just doesn't happen evenly. And the new comes to take its place. Let us accept these changes with grace.