Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is hard and summing up two years of ministry is harder. Partly I want to brag about all the wonderful things we have managed to do together in this short time. Mostly, I just want to say thank you, in such a way that you will know how deeply grateful I am for this time.

Words seem inadequate for either and there's no time to put a slideshow together. Instead, I offer you the following abbreviated list--a few select items from my many wonderful memories at BMPC. I have omitted all BMPC members’ names—but you know who you are!

  • The moment at last year’s VBC, when the demonstration of filtering water failed, but no one cared because the kids were happily wrapped up with observing and touching our pet turtle.
  • Sitting with our members in the fellowship hall at Lombard Central Presbyterian Church, and learning with them about the history of that place and its people from Rev. Anna Grant, and feeling our collective response of keen interest in this history that intersects with our own.
  • Hearing many folks of a certain generation singing the chorus of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” at the top of their lungs, as we packed 20,000 meals together for Stop Hunger Now. Those meals have now been sent to Zambia, and I imagine that in some way the gusto of that chorus goes with them.
  • The Sunday morning when someone heard my sermon at the 8:00 service and in a few words over a handshake, gave me an illustration that added a whole new level to the version I preached at the 10:00 service.
  • Tim Wise’s Community Forum—not just what he said about the challenge of resisting ingrained and systemic racism, which was inspiring, funny, challenging, and sharply true. But who was there—BMPC members, community members, African American churches and organizations, students from nearby private schools encouraged by their teachers. All of us hearing the challenge a little differently, but hearing it together.
  • Learning from the women attending Holy Leisure that there is a rhyme about which way to spoon one’s soup--and practically a fairy tale about how to lay a place setting.
  • Meeting and getting to know Bryn Mawr’s creative and inspiring mission partners, from Habitat to West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, from Broad Street Ministry to the Center for Returning Citizens. There is so much good being done with such thoughtfulness, intention, and compassion in Philadelphia, and it was a joy to be in among it with BMPC.
  • Getting to share leftovers for lunch with my husband and John Dominic Crossan, when he came as our Theologian-in-Residence.
  • Witnessing the removal of some ancient asbestos padding and a whole lot of wire from pillars in the basement of the Common Place--a wrestling match that took hours, and led to much rejoicing when it was finished.
  • Grilled poundcake and getting my name tag embellished by a couple of our younger members, at Wednesday night dinners.

There are so many more where these came from. We have been part of one another's lives and of one another's faith journeys, and that has been a great privilege for me. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, “when we stand before Jesus, you will be my boast, and I will be your boast.” Even though I am a small part of this church’s long and lovely history, please know that I will always boast a little bit of you to God, and I hope you will boast a little bit of me too.