Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.

-Charles M. Schulz

The Peanuts creator had it spot-on. We need more Hellos: those lucid, initial moments of meeting someone for the first time, of welcoming them into your space and ultimately, embracing them into a wider community. Hellos are nice. But every beautiful and ornamental hello subtly hints at what we all dread…Goodbye.

That final gong: Goodbye

It’s not that it must happen – and we all understand that every Hello necessitates an eventual Goodbye. No, that’s not the problem: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose,” says the sage poet in Ecclesiastes. But for some reason Goodbye always feels incomplete. In the midst of them we gather the sense that we could have done/said more (the most powerful example of this is the monologue at the end of the movie “Schindler’s List”). And if it doesn’t highlight unfinished business then it alludes that something must have gone wrong: relationships don’t end unless something goes wrong, right? Something bad happened. So when it comes to Goodbye, it is almost impossible to separate closure from feelings of inadequacy or blame. No wonder humans are so bad at Goodbye!!!

There has got to be more than one way to do Goodbye. There has got to be a better way to end something than feeling incomplete or guilty (or making you feel guilty). There has to. Why does every Goodbye feel like an interruption? I believe we have lost the sense of the welcome Goodbye. In other words: we’ve lost the Good in Byes. It’s all bad now.

We’ve got to do better. Learning Goodbye is what it means to live faithfully as Christians. Jesus arrives preparing people for his departure, and he uses a set amount of time to do meaningful work. When he leaves he wants no one to feel sorry, but to ask: “What have I learned by his being here?” June is when everybody leaves this place: McKinna…Garry and April…Glenn…Katherine…Karl…Jessica…we’ve heard a lot of Goodbyes. But instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, or wondering if something is wrong with UChurch, ask a different question: What have you learned from your time with them? Did we do our best to contribute to their Becoming? The lesson of the Gospel seems to be to ask: Did we appreciate these people while they were here? Did we make the most of it?

We should make the most of every season, every person in our lives. Goodbye wasn’t meant to feel bad; it was meant to bring necessary closure and move you to the next phase. Goodbye is a part of our evolutionary process. We ought to celebrate when a person leaves: I’ll miss you, but what an HONOR to be part of who God is making you! I’m so thankful for what you have meant to me!

We may need more Hellos, but we also need to get better at Goodbyes.

-Pastor Julian