It’s hard for me to believe this is my last Sunday.

When I first set up my office at Peace over ten years ago, I taped a poem on the wall near my desk. It’s full of pin holes and fold marks because I’ve carried it from place to place for over twenty years. I read it often. It helps change my perspective, giving me grace when I feel inadequate, vision when I can’t see what’s next. It reminds me of my limited role in the eternal story of God’s grace.

As I clean out my office, I am tucking the poem away in a box until I land in my new office, where I will unfold it, tape it up, and start anew.

I wish I could tuck you in a box too. I wish I could leave, but also stay. I wish we didn’t have to say goodbye in order for a new thing to begin.

Goodbye is part of the life of faith. Jesus left his disciples. As he did, he told them to leave too, to go to new people. Paul wrote letters to communities that he had left. I am encouraged to discover how common leave-taking is in the life of church. It helps me trust grief and loss are always transformed by hope and resurrection.

We are saying goodbye. It comes with enormous grief and at the same time, Jesus helps me know it will all be ok. Better than ok. It will be good.

I can’t pack you all up. Instead I take all the love we have exchanged, the gospel life we have shared. And I trust God that in the mystical bonds of the church, we are always connected. Somehow, you do go with me, less tangible than that poem, but no less real.

Peace has been a huge and beautiful chapter of my life. I am who I am because of you. I have only gratitude for what we have been together. I praise God for having had the joy of being your pastor. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Here’s the poem:

A Prayer of Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future that is not our own. Amen.