A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
At our Church of the Village leadership retreat in January, I remember feeling a lot of inner turmoil. Like everyone else, I was anxious about the future, with Bishop J retiring. We all have our own individual reasons for being anxious. We are all losing unique things in losing him. It is triggering differently for all of us. Beyond just losing a mentor and colleague, a big part of my particular anxiety had to do with my job. Would I be moving this summer? What would that mean for my family? And, most significantly, would I ever get to serve a church that embraced me as whole heartedly as Church of the Village again?
The retreat for our church leaders was purposefully focused on transition. So I found myself intentionally reflecting on my emotions a lot. And I remember vividly a moment during a worship service when my mind was in a state of rare stillness. We were in a candle lit chapel singing a favorite song led by Katie on acoustic guitar. And I was surrounded by so many genuinely faithful people who desired the best for one another and for the world. And it was such bliss. And I heard God whisper to me out of that beauty these striking words: “Do not be so worried about the future that you forget to appreciate the present.”
I know the words came from outside of myself because I was really a ball of nerves in those months, truly unable to find much calm from within my own heart or mind. But those words were like a taught string finally being plucked. They were a release that allowed me to finally participate fully in the music and beauty around me, in all the goodness that made me so anxious for its loss.
We have one more weekend with Bishop J. Then we will do the hard and awkward work of learning to love another lead pastor. The time for that hard and awkward work will come in a few weeks. And then we live in the faith that we will find Christ in Pastor Jeff and he will find Christ in us, and we will be ok and even more than ok. But it will be hard, and many of us will really grieve the loss of our founding pastor.
But we must not be so worried about that future that we forget to appreciate the present. This weekend, I invite you, Church of the Village, to just enjoy Bishop J and the spirit he brings. Line dance at his farewell party with abandon. Laugh at his Trekkie jokes like you’ve never heard them before. Enjoy him and enjoy the way our church is today. After all, it is all that you have loved about Bishop J and his spirit that makes it so hard to see him leave.
The problem with enjoying this time is the grief we must feel at its loss. So let us grieve. Let us feel all the feelings. The happiness and joy of the moment and the sadness that it won’t feel quite like this again. Those feelings are inevitable as we let go. Let us grieve, and let us do it together, holding one another in the faith that–just as Bishop J found 10 years ago–this time of ending holds the seeds of a new and exciting beginning.
Join us this Sunday for Bishop J’s final worship service at Church of the Village after serving as its founding pastor of ten years. Also, see the blogs of tribute published recently by our church members.