It is hard to say goodbye. Yesterday was a tremendous day for me and for Catherinanne and it was a very hard day in so many ways. Nonetheless we were offered so much love and support and so much care. The personal notes and letters that came in were very touching and I will treasure them for ever. In these past few weeks we have come to learn how much you mean to us and indeed how very much we mean to you. It was surprising to me that the church would be so full yesterday with over 220 people in attendance. I am certainly not deserving of the many kind things that you have said and done over these past nine weeks as we have said goodbye. God is good and has shown us in small gestures how very connected we have been to others. It means so much to us that so many of you would not see us go without expressing to us personally how you feel. Thank you for that.
My goodbye to the parish of St. Mark’s yesterday was to remind you all from whence you came and the promise that we made so long ago together to take notice that ‘the Messiah is among us.’ That commitment has led to growth in the Spirit at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. You are all to be congratulated for the work that you have done throughout the years, in spite of ordained leadership and not because of it. Thank you for allowing this ordained leader a chance to see you at work and take part in seeing the Messiah on your Emmaus road.
I wrote a hymn in honour of the people of this church to make the occasion of my last Sunday. I thought I should share it here today. I wrote two verses that were inspired by my Grandmother Winnie Whyatt who would say, “Pleasure is meeting and parting is pain.” They became the conclusion of my sermon and there are as follows:
Meeting is pleasure, parting pain
Say now farewell, we’ll meet again
On some far shore, some distant land
Again in embrace, walk hand in hand.
I love you all, I’ll miss you so
But now has come, my time to go
Though tears may fall, as now we part
Your love remains within my heart.
Then we sang together (after a verse or two solo on the pipes of O Waly, Waly – The hymn Tune) these verses.
God’s love is rich, is deep, is wide
God’s love is for all humankind
God seeks the lost, God holds the weak
God calls the mighty to be meek.
We meet the Lord in human hands
In feet, in voice, in acts of love
We see God work among the poor
We see God open many doors
Many the hands that break the bread
Many the feet that press the wine
Many the hearts that love all hurts,
Forgive, and heal with tender works.
We’re made for good, we’re made for love
we’re made for friendliness and trust
no one outside, no one forgot
all welcomed in, all have a spot
Today we pray God guide us on
Our voices joined in Holy Song
People of God, lift up your hearts
Singing to God in your own part
Now God Creator, bless our call
Jesus the Son, Redeem us all
O Holy Dove, sustain with strength
People of God, in every place
Hymn Tune: O Waly, Waly
Poem & Hymn by: Kevin George, © July, 01, 2012. Written for the Occasion of his last Sunday as Rector of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake and in thanksgiving for the people of the parish
verse four is inspired by the words of Desmond Tutu
We all experience pain in our lives in one form or another. The pains that we go through strengthen our faith and relationship with God. It renews. It restores. It refreshes and strengthens us.
Thank you for writing such a beautiful hymn. It will always serve as a special reminder of the uncommon relationship between St. Mark’s By-The- Lake and its rector.