Lessons Learned: The Art of Saying Goodbye
Call Week is a realization for many different things depending on the year level for seminarians. First year seminarians realize this is a sign that their first year is ending. For our second year seminarians it is the joy of finishing their second year as well as the excitement of receiving vicarage placements. Third years experience joy knowing their return marks the start of the last leg of their seminary journey. Finally, for the fourth/fifth year seminarians, it is a realization of their journey at seminary coming to an end and the acknowledgement of their first calls. One thing that all the seminarians are learning is “The Art of Saying Goodbye”. We have all had to do it before, most recently before starting seminary. We leave our family, congregation, university and friends behind to travel down the path to pastoral ministry.
When the academic year started, we were all new to each other unless we have prior experience in a similar home congregation or undergrad. While the initial shock of so many names to learn wears off, you become familiar with your brethren, their families, and instructors. As seminarians, continue to grow in their formation, a bond forms amongst them. We become invested in the overall well-being and maturation of our brothers, sisters, and even their children. We grow attached to the faculty and staff, to our field congregations, and to each other.
We all experience a feeling of joy for our brothers and sisters headed into the ministry. The feeling of sadness kicks in when we realize these faithful soldiers we have lived and studied with for the past year (or longer) are getting ready to depart us. Many of which we may not see again if we do not wind up in the same District with them. Many of us have had to say goodbye in the past either when leaving for college, getting married, or of course leaving for seminary. However, there just seems to be something different and bittersweet about the impending goodbyes. Flashes of the not so distant memories of intramurals, study sessions, Prof-n-Steins, and celebrations flood through our heads. We have shared in births, deaths, baptisms, confirmations, engagements, and weddings over the year. Your highs have been our highs and your lows have been our lows. You have reassured us about classes and life in general for almost a year now. We have broken bread, celebrated accomplishments, and shared in fellowship during the year.
As we bid our brother and sisters goodbye, we should think about things in this manner. We are like the parents in Genesis 2:24, where the son leaves his parents to be with his wife. Well, our friends are leaving their seminary family to become a partner with their placement and vicarage assignment congregations. We have as a family played a minor part in their formation to this point. God has called them to do his work in the world and we take pride that it is one of our brethren going out to do this noble work. We rejoice knowing where our friends will be going. We rejoice knowing they will be blessed by those they meet and vice versa. Soon, they will all begin to disappear to begin their next steps in the mission field. As that happens, the cycle will begin anew.
Dear brothers and sisters blessings on the next steps of your respective ministries stand fast and know that you take each of us out in the mission field with you. Do not forget the lessons learned at seminary.