I recently accepted a Divine Call to serve another congregation. There is a lot that comes with that, and once a call is accepted, things move at a rapid pace. Since then, my family and I have sold our house, said goodbye to a church that we love, traveled to the Great White North, lived with parents, bought a new house, backed out of it, bought a different house, moved in, been welcomed to a new congregation, all while expecting our third child. Moving entails a lot of effort, a lot of logistics, and amid all the mechanical parts, emotions also come with leaving. It really struck me upon leaving our first home. The place our daughter took her first steps. The place we brought our son home. The place where we had dance parties, wrestling matches, happy hours, and spur-of-the-moment gatherings was no longer ours. The house that we filled with memories sat empty, except for the keys and garage door opener on the counter. As my wife and children left ahead of me, I took a moment to simply look around. I walked through the empty rooms and replayed our life like a movie in my mind. Then it happened. The levies broke, and I admit it: I cried. Like, ugly cried. It wasn’t grief, per se, or sorrow. But something else. It was the culmination of saying goodbye to so many people I loved, so many friends I cherished, and so many wonderful moments that took place. Maybe even a deep seeded fear of the unknown and what the future would bring.
On my last Sunday at my previous church, I got a glimpse into what Paul felt as he left the church in Ephesus, one that ended with affectionate weeping. Saying goodbye is something my wife and I have experienced a lot. This wasn’t the first time we moved. It wasn’t our first time leaving. We have left family and friends to go to the Seminary. We left the Seminary for vicarage. We left vicarage to go back to school. We left the Seminary to go to the parish. Each time we left there was a sadness that came with it in remembering what once was and a deep seeded fear of what was next. In all these things I have learned something, a beautiful lesson in faith. It is something that found itself in my last sermon at my last parish. For the Christian, even while there are so many unknowns, there is a constant, there is a place that is a comfort, and there is a home. There is the Church.
I left a congregation, but I also joined a new one where I am now serving as their pastor. During the times when I miss the people I left, there is a great comfort that we are all part of Christ’s Church and that one day we will be united in glory. Christ’s Church is something that serves as a solid foundation when life is filled with changes, moves, transitions, and uncertainties. In Christ’s Church, there is certainty in what to expect. Christ’s Church is the rock on which we can anchor ourselves. We can expect to go and hear the Word of God proclaimed in its purity. We can go and expect to receive the gifts of grace. We can go and expect to be welcomed with open arms. This is the beauty of the Church; it is a rock in an uneasy world. I know, the church has its issues. It has its flaws, and it has its warts. Yet underneath all of that, it is still the only hope, the only safe harbor, and the only sure thing in this world. It is now and will be until Christ unites His Church.
Moving is tough. Transitions are tough. But all of it is a little less tough when you find the faithful gathering of God’s people.