October 2015

Dear Friends in Christ, I found myself reflecting with our staff a few weeks ago about the goodbyes we have been called upon to make in the last year. Some dear friends and leaders of our congregation have died. Others moved on to new ventures to be closer to

I found myself reflecting with our staff a few weeks ago about the goodbyes we have been called upon to make in the last year. Some dear friends and leaders of our congregation have died. Others moved on to new ventures to be closer to family. Whether their partings were sudden or expected, sad or bittersweet, we miss them. They brought great gifts to us and we do not know how we will ever be the same without them. I know families experience this as well. When we say goodbye to one we have loved — whether the parting is joyful or tragic, expected or a surprise, we know we are changed. Sometimes with such

I know families experience this as well. When we say goodbye to one we have loved — whether the parting is joyful or tragic, expected or a surprise, we know we are changed. Sometimes with such partings we find ourselves entering a new season in our lives. And again, this is also so in the life of a congregation. During these last days of

During these last days of September we have been called upon to say goodbye to a staff member who has especially loved and welcomed our children faithfully and well. We have been grateful to have Ann Oduber on the staff as Christian Education Coordinator at First Lutheran Church for four years. During this time she has overseen Wednesday night programming and Vacation Bible School and for the last couple of years has coordinated Sunday morning Sunday School. Her gifts will be missed.

Most of us don’t like such changes, of course, but still they come to us. I find it especially helpful in such times to remember some basic things:

  1. It is normal to grieve when the change is hard. To not grieve does not make it go away. It just means we are not availing ourselves of the healing gifts of actually feeling pain. Of course, it doesn’t feel like a gift at the time, does it? But to avoid it often means we never have the chance to know healing.
  2. As part of this it is important to say goodbye and very often thank you’s are an important part of goodbye. We see it at funerals, of course. But also when our young people start off on the next big venture of their lives. And certainly when we celebrate and thank a staff person who is ending a time of service among us.
  3. God holds it all and all of us. Just because you and I can’t see what comes next, God certainly does. While such change may bring an end to some wonderful things, it can also open up the way to unexpected gifts and surprises. We don’t know what those are yet.

And so for now, if you did not get the chance to say goodbye to Ann Oduber, you might think about sending her a note of thanks at home (122 Elm Street in DeKalb). By doing this well, we honor her and we also allow ourselves to let go of what has been so that we can begin to see what might be.

Be sure to pray for her, as well as for this staff, key volunteers, and leaders as we discern our future, especially in terms of how we will shape our ministry for and with children.

We do, indeed, thank God for all that has been good and we trust God to hold our future together.

Peace to you and many blessings.