Pastor’s Pen – May 15, 2016 | St. Ann Catholic Church | St. Louis, MO

“One last time, Relax, have a drink with me
One last time Let’s take a break tonight
And then we’ll teach them how to say goodbye
To say goodbye You and I”

These are lines from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, as George Washington has announced that he would not seek another term as president. Hamilton was shocked. “Mr. President, they will say you’re weak. No, they will see we’re strong. Your position is so unique. So I’ll use it to move them along. Why do you have to say goodbye? If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on. It outlives me when I’m gone.”

George Washington knew a truth about goodbyes. Jesus knew that truth as well, in the feast of the Ascension that we just celebrated. One of the effects of saying goodbye well is that people learn to move on, they learn to be empowered to take up their lives and continue on the path God has set out for them.

There are three tasks to saying goodbye. To say: “I‟m sorry.” To say “Thank You.” And to say: “I love you.” Allow me a moment to begin to say those things.

I’m sorry. (And: “Will you forgive me?)

For the obvious things:

  • for not getting out to see you in the hospital when I heard you were there
  • for not getting over to the school classrooms to spend time teaching your kids.
  • for making you „invisible‟ at social functions, not because I didn‟t see you, but because I couldn‟t remember your name and felt embarrassed to ask you the 40th time
  • for not organizing a parish response to the events in Ferguson
  • for not having gotten the “ACTS” retreat program off the ground here at St. Ann

For the not so obvious things:

  • for not being a voice in ‘political’ things which affected our neighborhood
  • for using the excuse of “‘being busy” as a reason not to engage with you
  • for shepherding this parish in a “let‟s keep things running mode” instead of “I have a vision for doing n._______ mode”
  • for not spending nearly enough time in prayer for and with you
  • for falling into the trap which said: “Because I can do many things, I should do them myself (instead of empowering you to take your roles of leadership in the church)” and much more that space will not allow here…

George Washington put the following into his farewell ad-dress. “Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will view them with indulgence.” I carry with me the same hope, that you, the good people of St. Ann will view my shortcoming and failures with indulgence – and forgiveness.

Next week – “Thank You” (though it may take more than a week…)