Monday, April 27, 2009

When Worlds Collide

Ever have opportunity to introduce a friend to others who are your friends, too?

We all have different friends from different chapters of our lives.

They are compartmentalized into the varied places we live.
Work friends.
Neighborhood Friends.
Church Friends.
Childhood Friends.
Camp Friends.
Facebook Friends? Hmm. Still working on that one.

There seems a particular symmetry to life when each category of friends stays within the world we know them.

When Kristy and I were married (20 years ago on the 20th of May), each of my groomsmen represented a specific chapter of my life. From my childhood up to the present moment at the time (which was while I was in seminary) these guys collectively comprised as full a story of who I was as could be told. On their own, each held only a piece of my story. And none of them knew each other.

Being an itinerant kid, I had friends from each location upon my Dad's ministry trail. Introducing them to each other was a trip. I felt like my worlds were colliding.

I feel like I'm doing something like that again.

While it's not typically the role of the outgoing pastor to go on and on about the new guy, other than the gratuitous collegial pleasantries - I find that in this case, business as usual doesn't apply. I can't help myself because Brad is my colleague - sure. But he is more than that. He is among that handful of people in my life who I call "friend."

We've known of each other since college days. He almost followed me in an appointment way back in 1988 at Old Hickory. You can ask him about that one.

We've been in a covenant group meeting for two hours every week since 1993. Rebecca and he make up 1/3 of Glad River (be looking for a mini-reunion of the original front line of the band at Annual Conference).

We did our D.Min. together at Wesley. We’ve taught at the seminary level together. This past fall we co-taught a course on “John Wesley and the Poor.”

We comprise 2/3 of a particular “band of brothers" in the clergy. The other guy moved away from us at the first of the year to go to Paris. We have been known as the “unholy trinity,” a title well earned and a badge of honor we share gladly.

We've stood by, with and for each other on many occasions in our lives - some of which could be repeated, and many more that will stay in the vault.

I commented to some of you that my angst in leaving was prompted by some of the usual stuff. I love it here. I love you all. I love the work we have done and what is to be done. Those feelings coupled with the reality of leaving and the natural process we all go through in a transition is always complicated in our line of work because we hope and pray that the one who follows us will take what's been done and move forward far beyond where we are now.

Truth, painful as it is, is that such a thing doesn't always happen. I’ve known that pain before from previous places I’ve served and left. I didn’t want to know it again.

Not here. Not this time.

When Brad told me he was projected to Saint John's, I felt a flood of emotion wash over me and I knew I could leave having passed the mantle to one who will do great things as your pastoral leader.

I don't want to overdo this. And truthfully, it is the role of the Staff Parish Relations Committee to make these introductions.I just want you to meet my friend, and I want him to meet you. My worlds are colliding again and I'm leaving you knowing you will form a new and meaningful relationship with each other.

I'm thrilled about what that will mean for all of you.

And know this.

I'll be watching and cheering you on.

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