Over 2,000 years ago, Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “The only constant in life is change.” Yet, we still grapple with this idea as though it is new. It seems as though the last few years have been full of unprecedented change and transition. Much has been said about this. However, it is one thing to talk about all the good that God can do through these changes and the power of transformation. It is another thing to live through it. It almost seems like every day we are experiencing some new way of experiencing change. Despite that, saying goodbye to a beloved tradition, milestone, or person has been our most constant and greatest teacher of change.
This Sunday, my congregation, Hope Lutheran Church, is saying goodbye to our Pastor of over 15 years. There are so many unknowns to accompany this change. It almost feels like there is a giant clock floating in the sky, counting down the minutes until Pastor Mike is no longer our official Pastor, mentor, and spiritual guide. What will life look like when the clock reaches zero? Of course our lives will be forever changed by Pastor Mike and his family. Of course, our friendship will remain and we can always visit each other. But what of our time after? It is so easy to get caught up in the what-ifs and worries. It is so easy to let concern and fear overrun our imagination. Some changes are unexpected, but some changes come like this impending goodbye. How do we deal with it? How will we be through it? Where will we end up? What will we look like a year from now?
When fear of the unknown rises, my concern comes from the idea that this change does not feel good. My concern says that nothing good can come from it. But when I take some time to breathe and sit with it, I am reminded of Jesus’ own words from Matthew, “No one is good but God alone.” Though there is much we do not know, we do know some. We know our future will not look exactly as we expect, but we also know that God – our good God – will be with us through it all, working all things together for good.
May this goodness comfort us no matter what changes we face. May the goodness of God be the good in our goodbye, sustaining us as we enter into an unknown future.