The Parting

By on May 23, 2014 in News & Musings

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They came in one Sunday morning and sat near the front of the church. A young family: Mom, Dad and two squirmy little boys. They were relaxed and friendly and introduced themselves during the passing of the peace. “Hi! I’m Jill, this is my husband David and our boys, Finn and Charlie.” Finn lowered his dark eyes and hid behind his Mom a bit while Charlie, golden curls bobbing, flashed a big smile.

Back in the day, if a young couple came to church a few Sundays in a row, sent their boys to the nursery or Sunday School, agreed to serve on a committee or two, and soon became members, a congregation could pretty much count on them being long-time, perhaps even lifetime, members.

One of the slow realizations for our church is that life no longer works that way (and hasn’t for quite a while). People move into our neighborhood and later buy a house in the outer suburbs. People move into our neighborhood because their job landed them in Minneapolis but they later are transferred, again. People move into our neighborhood because they are attending college and post-college life draws them elsewhere. The reasons people come and go are as varied as the people themselves.

It’s been a bit of a hard lesson for Zion. We love new people. We love to welcome them and meet them where they are in life. We always hope they’ll stay so we can get to know them better. That’s the joyful part!

And then…there’s the parting.

Sometimes people just disappear and we have no idea why they are no longer among us. Others come in and out – sometimes disappearing, sometimes returning. Other times, we know well in advance that the young family will eventually be moving to another part of the country.

David is here for a long-term employment relocation that is coming to an end. Jill is now expecting their third child. Finn and Charlie have made friends around church and proudly passed out flowers on Mother’s Day. This young family rolled up their sleeves and become woven into the fabric of life at Zion. Soon, they will return to their home and their family in Cincinnati. And we, their church friends, are so very sad to see them go.

The lesson is hard, but we are learning. We are learning to embrace the moment. We are learning that God places people at our doorstep to be fed and nourished and embraced for one Sunday…or for a lifetime of Sundays. We intend to continue learning as we travel this journey in an ever-changing land.

Jill, David and the boys have promised to visit next summer. Until then, we’ll wish them well, wait for news of the new baby, and try to be brave as we say goodbye.

Because that’s what you’ll find when you worship at Zion – people ready to meet you in transition, to love you with unconditional grace, and to send you back into the world strengthened by this little community of faith. You will be woven in and adored. And then, if you must keep moving, we will wish you well with joy. This life is about Kingdom building, not congregation building. It’s about relationships, not numbers. It’s about being alive and moving – never standing perfectly still.

Godspeed, Jill and David. Goodbye, Finn and Charlie. May God bless and keep each of you all the days of your life.


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