The following is a sermon preached on Ascension Sunday, 2017. You can listen to the sermon here:
You know, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s goodbyes. Anyone else here hate goodbyes?
Yeah, and the fact that I hate them so much means I’m not really very good at goodbyes.
Sometimes I get awkward and silent. Sometimes I get awkward and really chatty! Heck, sometimes I get awkward and I make poor choices, like the one time when I was getting ready to say goodbye to my family when they dropped me off at college.
They were looking forward to a final dinner with me, in the school cafeteria, before they left. But I was worried about the awkwardness of saying a tearful goodbye between packed tables and chairs, so I suggested that they just leave.
Let’s just say that my family wasn’t very happy. And me? Neither was I. I ate my first college meal all alone.
Goodbyes suck. And I often suck at goodbyes.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, for one thing, this is my “goodbye” sermon here at St. Peter’s, and I wanted to give an excuse for this sermon, if it sucks!
In all seriousness, I do want to thank this congregation for being such a good place for Rachel and me to serve and grow alongside you. Thank you for loving Rachel and me as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will miss you all very much as we move to Illinois this week.
Anyways, I don’t want this goodbye to get TOO awkward, so I’d better keep on preaching!
I think that goodbyes are bad because they so often leave our stories unfinished.
And we humans tend to hate unfinished business. It’s so much better when the story has an end! Sometimes, even a bad ending is better than no ending at all!
Think about it, if you’re watching an important game on TV – say, Alabama vs. Auburn – would you rather see the ending, even if your team loses, or have the power go out and completely miss the final minutes?
Stories without endings are frustrating. And that’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye.
That’s why Death – the ultimate goodbye, if you will – is so horrible.
It’s not really an ending, not for those of us who go on living, anyways. Instead, Death leaves our stories hanging, with words left unsaid and promises left unfulfilled.
I think here of parents in Manchester this week who were forced to say goodbye to their children all too soon, thanks to the suicide bombing. Or the Coptic Christians in Egypt forced to say goodbye to their loved ones too soon, thanks to the bus attack.
Goodbyes suck, because they leave our stories unfinished.
(Note: For other sermons, check out my Sermons page.)
WHAT ABOUT THE ASCENSION? DOES IT SUCK?
Is the Ascension of Jesus Christ, then, just another awful goodbye?