Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
I’ve never been very good at goodbyes. You all know me by now; I lean into the joys of life. I’m at my most comfortable when we’re all sharing a joke, or belly laughing at a good story. Let’s go play a game of softball or grab a beer at Crystal Lake Brewing. Let’s lift those baptismal babies up HIGH in the air for our Lion King moment. Let’s dress up in silly Reformation outfits and pretend to be Martin and Katie Luther. Let’s jump in a van with ten high schoolers and drive all over the country and do mission work.
But saying goodbye? I feel a little lost.
How did Jesus do it? How did he say goodbye to his disciples after years of ministry together? It turns out, he did it in a peculiar way. He didn’t say goodbye at all.
In a fitting end to my tenure here at Bethany, the last text we will read together is the Great Commission. It’s Jesus giving his disciples their final instructions (go and make disciples of all nations), and then instead of saying goodbye, he makes them a promise. His departing words in this Gospel of Matthew are, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Not goodbye. Not farewell. A promise.
I don’t know if I can make the same kind of promise to you all, but I do know that a part of Bethany will always be with me. And I hope in some small way, a part of me will always be with you.
Apart from that, I am confident that Jesus is with all of us through the power of the Holy Spirit, one with God our creator. Because of that, in Christ, I suppose there really are no goodbyes. Just God’s promises.