Thank You and Farewell

by Pastor Michael C. Rehak

In a few hours I'll turn out the office lights, hand over my keys, and say goodbye to your staff. Your staff at First Lutheran is an exceptional staff. I trust you will celebrate them even as they challenge you and work to engage you. Yes, they are a gifted staff, but that is for naught if you see them only to do for you. They are a blessing when you allow them to engage you in your mission.

Last Sunday, in the Farewell Litany, a phrase caught my attention and continues to capture me; "trusting that our time together and our parting are pleasing to God…" It was a challenge to come to First; to know I wouldn't see my wife every day, confident the dog would pout every time the suitcase came out, troubled I wouldn't have time for yard and gardens - those were the challenges. Saying Yes to joining you in ministry, saying Yes to helping you know again God's love and grace - that was an easy decision; in fact it didn't even feel like a decision. Rather it seemed it was just supposed to be. Our coming together was something pleasing to God and we were just along for the ride… and what a ride it has been.

Now I thank you for honoring our time together, for the people from First and the members of Grace; those at worship, and those at the luncheon featuring that delicious southern Norwegian fare - you had to have been there - (Thank you, Ruth). I was overwhelmed by kind words, and appreciate the many cards and gifts, including donations in my name to First Lutheran Foundation, the Dale Rasmussen Fund, monetary donations from church staff and volunteers sufficient to sponsor four Sherman Elementary students in the Weekend Kid's Meals program, a beautiful picture, a hand turned chalice, a wagon-wheel spoke engraved with my favorite Beatitude, Blessed be the Flexible, and many other remembrances. The cash gifts I received (except for the one designated for Pira and me to share some wine while in Germany, and the one designated for us to go out for dinner) will go to the Institute for Congregational Identity as initial donations to the research project I feel called to pursue.

The Farewell Litany ended with prayer: God, whose everlasting love for all is trustworthy, help each of us to trust the future which rests in your care. The time we were together in your name saw our laughter and tears, our hopes and our disappointments. Guide us as we hold these cherished memories but move in new directions, until that time to come when we are completely one with you and with each other, in the name of Jesus Christ we pray.   Amen.

Now the time has come, the right time, God's time, when our parting is now pleasing to God. This is what is supposed to be. Equally, I trust Pastor Amy's call is pleasing to God. Live together in the Peace of the Holy Spirit.