Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Morning Preacher: Saying goodbye

Yesterday was my last Sunday at All Saints, San Leandro as the sabbatical interim. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from that brief stint. I gained a huge new appreciation for solo clergy and how very hard it is to preach week in and week out--whew! Believe me, that's a lot harder than it looks.

I felt like it was a good and healthy farewell, which makes things so much easier. Not a lot of baggage after three months, of course, which helps. But still, it was long enough to make saying goodbye important.

Not long ago, I heard this story about a really nasty final sermon where the bishop took a hammer to a chalice he had been given when he first arrived. So ungracious, to say the least. I understand about unhappy leave-takings, but there's a difference between shaking the dust off your sandals and kicking sand in people's faces.

Good-bye, of course, is a contraction of "God be with ye," and it seems to me that's what any good final sermon will say in one way or another. You don't have to like one another to say "The Lord be with you."

I think one of the worst things a preacher can do is leave people hanging, either by not acknowledging there's any change happening, or by venting without any chance for two-way communication. It's like having someone hang up on you. There's something so terrible about not having closure. It keeps wounds open for such an unnecessarily long time.

What do you think allows for good good-byes?


motheramelia said...

I think that knowing why you were there and that you did the best you could and that it is time to leave all help. And yyes, being a solo pastor and having to preach every Sunday is hard work.

Kurt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kurt said...

Thanks for the great post Laura!

My goodbye sermon at Trinity Cathedral, where I was first Curate and then a Canon, still lives in their podcast section.

Listening to it today still makes me laugh and cry. I was called to be the rector here in NH. I started out by "taking some liberties": a few photographs from the pulpit of the congregation. Then I talked about how I would no longer be their priest, and what that meant to me. I also focused on all the wonderful things that great community would do in the future.

It helped that I had a great experience there, but I think you are right about the need to always look toward the future in a final sermon.

Kurt said...

Sorry, that link didn't work.


...and then go down to Kurt

(assuming somewhat actually wants to listen to a goodbye sermon from two years ago!!!)


LKT said...

Thanks, Kurt! I'll be sure to check that out!