Saying Goodbye

John 16. 23b-28

Saying Goodbye is never easySaying Goodbye is never easy, especially if it’s a life changing Goodbye.

I have watched the T.V. programme, ‘Wanted Down Under’, it’s about people moving to Australia – they have a trial in Australia, and part of that is hearing from their family and friends and how they feel about them moving so far away.  There are usually tears when they realise how difficult saying Goodbye is and how much they will miss the people they will leave behind. 

I am an army child, my father was in the army and we used to move quite frequently, it was always hard to say Goodbye, we didn’t have mobile phones, computers, or Facebook back then.  (That makes me feel old) I had to leave behind the friends I had made. 

When your child starts school, that very first day, you have been preparing for it all summer buying uniform talking to your child about it.  But when that day comes, who feels more nervous? I have been in reception classes where children don’t look back as the parent says goodbye, they happily skip in.  But as a parent myself I felt the huge tug at my heart –  that Goodbye signified my child is growing up, they are no longer a baby.  All day I wondered how they would be, picking them up that first time was emotional for me.  But for them, it had been a very exciting time. 

Moving up to secondary school is another time to say Goodbye.  That’s why leaving services for year 6 are so important, it is so emotional for the children and the parents.  But it is so important that the children and parents get to acknowledge the end of one thing and the beginning of something new and exciting..   It’s the saying Goodbye that the children find hard, saying goodbye to their classmates if they are going off to different schools, saying goodbye to their teachers, the school, and somewhere they have spent their early childhood. 

We also see this kind of saying Goodbye when the children leave secondary school, they usually do this with a ball or dance these days.  This also happens when they leave University, the graduation service is full of excitement with a tinge of sadness as they realise life will never be the same. 

Saying Goodbye when you leave a job, is the same as well – you are leaving a place you have spent your days sometimes for years.  Yes, it’s exciting that you are moving on to something new, but there is a tinge of sadness that your life is changing. 

I think that is the essence of Goodbye – it means change.  Sometimes that change is major, but sometimes that change is for a short time.  Saying Goodbye as someone goes off to work isn’t major, we know they will return at the end of the day. Saying Goodbye as someone goes off on holiday, we know in a week or two they will be back.  On the other hand, as I’ve already said Goodbye means a change of lifestyle, moving house, or an acknowledgement that you are growing up is the kind of Goodbye that can bring tears and sadness.

Most Goodbyes can be prepared for, we can gather together to celebrate, to say thank you for all the good times, and time to explore what we have learnt.  Sometimes it might just be time to gather ourselves together before the change happens.  Preparation really does help with the changes that are happening within our lives. 

This is what Jesus was doing with his disciples, he was preparing them for the day that he would leave them although he didn't actually say Goodbye, it would be a change in the disciples lives, they would be continuing Jesus’ ministry without him right there with them.  Their lives were changing and it was important that they were prepared.

It’s important that we prepare the children to say ‘Goodbye’ – whatever that goodbye might mean.  Even if it is just the end of the school year. 

(Look out for my end of term service.  I will be posting it on my webpage.)

We can mark that ending in so many ways.  But to go with God’s blessing for me is the most important way. 

Which is what Goodbye has come from – God be with you. 

So, as I say Goodbye that is my prayer for you all is ‘God be with you’, wherever you are and whatever you are doing today.  J
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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