Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sorrow Turned to Joy

 ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”; and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They said, ‘What does he mean by this “a little while”? We do not know what he is talking about.’ Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.  ‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’
 His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’
John 16:16-23

Preparing to say good bye is always a difficult thing. This is my last South East Deanery meeting while serving in Sitka. I have made many friends here and have had some wonderful experiences. There has been great joy and delight in our almost two years here. And there have been hard times too, as there are everywhere. But joy has always taken over, even when the days seemed most dark. And so saying goodbye will be hard. The letting go of proximity in order to go to a new phase of relationship and adventure.

The disciples were struggling to understand all that Jesus was saying. He finally used the image of a woman giving birth. It is a terrible pain, exhausting and life threatening. And yet, the gift of new life is overwhelmingly glorious. Jesus had to leave them and they had to go on. Their ministry and capacity would increase as they trusted the gifts they had been given, and held onto the love and relationship that they had been given. All of life involves changes, and God invites us to embrace even the hardest of separations as the beginning of possibilities. Not ignoring the pain and travail, but rather understanding that there is more joy round the corner, and more love to encounter as we move on.

Today I ask God to help me be tender and graceful in my in my letting goes an my goodbyes. May we accept the birth pangs that overwhelm us trusting that God is beside us making us new. May we embrace the unknown, knowing that God's love surrounds us where ever we go.

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