An old insurance company term for natural disasters is “acts of God,” which unfortunately links the Holy One with everything awful and unforeseen that can befall humanity, as if God were not just capricious but wrathful and cruel.
One of the buzz phrases in the United Methodist Church appointment process these days is “seasons of ministry.” As our bishops and cabinets try to encourage longer-term ministry appointments, this phrase helps us expand our imaginations. For too long in our tradition, clergy lived year to year, and so did congregations.
Many of us Protestants have lost a sense of connection with the apostolate. When was the last time, as we were installing church leaders, that we asked the question, "Have you truly, genuinely experienced the resurrection of the Lord?"
How do you say goodbye? It depends, I suppose, on the relationship—what it has grown to and what it will become. For Jesus, preparing to leave the close society of his disciples seems to have been a long process. Almost from the beginning he gently, or sometimes in exasperation, explained that the course his life was following would lead to profound changes in their lives. So he began saying goodbye early.
A person’s final words are important. When they are out of character or trivial, we remember them with some embarrassment. Elvis Presley, for example, supposedly said, “I’m going to the bathroom to read.” Well-spoken words, on the other hand, provide a fitting conclusion to a life and encouragement for those who remain.