David & Angela Reed
Joshua & Ashley
Springfield Heights Mennonite Church
June 17, 2005
The Lot has fallen upon me to have a an Opening & Meditation…
On this occasion of saying farewell
to the Reed Family.
I don’t know where the Opening will end
and the Meditation will begin…
When I started to think about what to say,
I realized that I had a problem:
“What do you say
when a colleague, a co-worker and friend
is moving on?”
I read a story that in 1978 during the firemen’s strike in England,
the British army took over emergency fire-fighting.
One day they were called out by an elderly lady
in South London to retrieve her cat.
They arrived with impressive haste,
very cleverly and carefully they rescued the cat,
and started to drive away.
But the lady was so grateful
she invited the squad of heroes in for tea.
Driving off later with fond farewells
and warm waving of arms,
they ran over the cat and killed it.
Well, Dave & Angela & family,
we trust that this occasion will be different.
Tonight we want to celebrate with you…
we want to give thanks to God for your ministry here…
we want to acknowledge the contributions
that you both made to our congregation…
we want to tell you that we will miss you…
We will try real hard not to run you over.
… but, we will try to have some fun along the way…
Maybe you heard the story about the little boy
who went to the pastor after the church service and said,
"When I grow up, I'm going to give you some money."
"Well, thank you," the pastor replied, "but why?"
"Because my daddy says
you're one of the poorest preachers we've ever had."
I think someone actually said that in your evaluation once,
Yea, it’s really too bad that you decided to leave
just when your preaching capital was beginning to grow…
And then there was the following announcement
in the bulletin:
“This morning the pastor will preach his farewell message
after which the choir will sing
Break Forth into Joy.”
A pastor placed his order at the pet store:
"I need at least 50 mice,
and as many of those little silverfish you can get."
The clerk replied,
"We can probably do that,
but it might take some time.
Do you mind if I ask
why you are placing such an unusual order?"
The pastor replied,
"I've accepted a call to another church
and the church council told me
to leave the parsonage the way I found it."
Well, David & Angela,
you have left this place a lot better than you found it!
You came to us when we really needed someone
to take a budding Youth program
and develop it into a stable and well organised program.
You’ve had some ups and downs,
but today we can say with certainty
that your successor will have a solid framework
to build upon
thanks to your dedication and hard work
and passion for our church.
But, your involvement with Springfield Heights
Was far more than just “running a program”.
You developed and nurtured caring relationships…
The Pastor/Church relationship is a very special bond.
It is certainly a lot more complex
and goes much deeper
than an employer/employee relationship.
Both the congregation and the pastor
have deep commitments.
For both, the pastor and the church,
it takes a lot of work to make it work.
In my opinion, David,
you always had the upper hand in this,
because God has entrusted you
with the gift of building strong and healthy relationships.
And so, this is a bitter-sweet occasion.
We are deeply saddend to see you go…
and we are also glad to see you go…
Let me rephrase that:
we are glad that this “going away” will see you,
and especially also Angela,
rise to new levels in the Service of the Lord.
Saying “Farewell” is never easy…
I was reflecting on some “farewells” in my life,
and I think especially of the times
when we visited back home in Paraguay
with our families.
When the day of departure came,
I walked one last time
through all the favorite rooms in the house where I grew up.
(I’ve seen you do some of that already too…)
I paused for a while here and there
remembering special experiences,
and also some painful event.
Then there was the loving embrace
of my father, my mother, and my brother…
And the words I’ll never forget,
“If there’s anything for which I need your forgiveness…”
I still choke up when I think about that time…
It is important to say “Good Bye”…
And to say it well!
A few years ago I read a booklet by Roy Oswald entitled,
"Running Through the Thistles:
terminating a ministerial relationship with a parish"
Oswald recounts that when he was a young boy
"growing up in rural Saskatchewan"
the quickest way home from school
"was over the fields."
"It was shorter...
but occasionally we would come upon
enormous thistle patches."
He and his older brothers either had to walk around
or find the narrowest gap and sprint across.
"I can still vividly remember the experience:
running full speed in bare feet
across 20 feet of prickly thistles
yelping in pain all the way through."
At the end there were always a few thistles stuck in his feet,
but the ordeal was over.
This is how many people (pastors and lay people alike)
manage their departure from a congregation.
We know it is going to hurt
so we rush full tilt ahead hoping to get it over with quickly.
David & Angela,
you have modelled for us
not only what a healthy relationship is supposed to be like
with the church family you serve…
but, you have also been a model of effective closure.
Saying “Good Bye” involves being able to feel deeply
the human side of the departure;
and experiencing fully the death of relationships;
the death of roles and functions and responsibilities;
the death of that special relationship
that a pastor has with the church he serves.
We trust that you will always have a special spot in your hearts
for the Springfield Heights family…
But, David, we also know that you will no longer call
to check on one of our teens…
and while you have them on the phone,
speak an encouraging word to the rest of the family.
Your concern for the young people
and families of this congregation
was firmly rooted in a deep relationship with God
that touches every part of your life.
You took care of your relationship with God,
And because of that you could also ask:
“How are you and God doing lately?”
That ministry of spiritual encouragement
was very much appreciated.
In “computerese” there is a programming expression -
a word called “wysiwyg”…
that is short for “What you see is what you get!”
In your public as well as in your private life
you have shown yourself to be a man of integrity
Your marriage and family life has also been
a good example to us.
A minister is often caught between the demands
of family and church.
Without a doubt,
there have also been challenges in your life
to balance these two great and sacred trusts.
I admire the way you spell love for your wife and kids,
as well as for your spiritual family: T-I-M-E.
Personally, I cherish the time I was able
To help restore an old computer for Joshua
so that he could play his computer games.
In that instant I graduated from being “Pastor Ferd”
to being “uncle Ferd” – what an honor!
David, in your interactions with your collegues
and your friends in ministry
you have displayed a level of emotional stability
that has often amazed me.
Even in times of disagreement you kept in mind
that there was a relationship at stake
and not just an issue or a point that had to be won.
I could go on and on
with a long list of achievements and special times
that we’ve shared with you…
Let it suffice to say
that “God’s grace has always been sufficient” for you Dave…
We rejoice in the ministry that you, Angela and Dave,
were a part of here at Springfield.
And, I want to say with my greatest appreciation:
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
May the Lord reward you richly
for all the kindness you have shown to us.
And may God walk before you and show you the way,
And keep watch over you
Wherever you go.