September is the month for us to say, “good-bye.” We haven’t said that to one another in a long time – 21 years, give or take a few months. It will be a sad good-bye for me. It will be the kind of sadness that is part deep loss and part deep thanksgiving.
What I will miss are you, my friends, who are true lodestars in my life; friends who have loved me and in so loving, have changed me. I will dearly miss that lovely gift of discovering I have been made new by the sharing of another’s mind and heart. It is what Christ asked us do for one another – that is, to help the Holy Spirit in her transforming work of whisking us up, leading us on a merry chase into places we would never dare to go on our own and then dropping us in a new place, changed except for the knowledge that we are actually back home where we started – just wiser, or a better listener, or more patient or filled with more loving kindness. Such a miracle, this loving – and it was something that happened all the time at First Congregational Church! And that’s where the gratitude lies!!
So, there is no saying a final good-bye to folks like this who have loved me into being. Rather, I think a phrase that was made famous by my great-grandmother and then my uncle Wes Burwell is much more appropriate. It originated in the late 1800s and was used as an affectionate way to let your friend know it was time for you to end your time with him/her. My great grandmother would say it with a twinkle in her eye – as did Wes. Wes actually used it the last time his children were with him and they were talking about what he imagined it would be like to die.
Wes answered, “I imagine it will be as if I walked down a hallway toward a door I wanted to pass through and I looked over my shoulder one last time, waved to you with all my love in that wave and said, “Toodle-loo.”
Now, I am certainly not on my way toward the end of my life. But Wes had an uncanny way of capturing the great mysteries in life and explaining them as if they were the most natural of occurances. So, leaving for the ultimate end for him would be no different than leaving his family and friends for a short time. He was just taking a relaxed stroll in another direction than they – but his presence would return to them, because the gracious God in whom he believed, had this resurrection thing all figured out. Wes knew that the space between this life and the life to come was thinner than we could imagine. So, too, the space between love in its immediacy and love in its remembrace – such a tiny, indecipherable space.
I love the notion of leaving one another, each of us confident in our unity of heart, each of us wishing one another the very best and dearest blessings. I like the image of us strolling away from one another in a relaxed gait with words in our ears that might sound like Paul and friends as he signed off to one of his churches – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. With the sweet response – “And also with you.” All that long time ago, Paul was really saying, “Toodle-loo.” So, we say it now, “Toodle-loo, my friends. Toodle-loo”
Love always, Rev. Deb
Where can I find FCC Worship Services?
All of our services continue on Facebook and YouTube through the end of June unless the state Guidelines for NH and the United Church of Christ guidelines for churches change dramatically. All are welcome and you can reach the link by clicking on the home page of this website on the facebook icon. Services go on-line by 8AM most Sunday mornings, and comments and reflections are always welcomed.
Lectionary Readings and Sermons for September
Sept. 6, 2020 Sacrament of Communion
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:15-20
Sermon: “Gathered in my Name”
September 13 – Re-opening Sunday Worship 10AM
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Sermon: “The Road to Freedom is through Forgiveness”
September 20 – End of the Summer Worship – Taped version Outside
Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:21-30
Sermon: “Seen or Unseen, Let us Act Worthily”
September 27 – Confirmation Sunday for Youth – Taped Version
Scripture Reading: “Philippians 2:1-13
Sermon: “God’s Sustaining Presence”