We did a lot of crying today.

The church has always been, from the very beginning, a community of people coming and going, in every kind of way, at every stage of life: a community of strangers we meet and welcome and come to know as friends and companions and bid farewell and Godspeed.

It has always been this way, which is why the letter to the Philippians begins with this beautiful greeting across time and distance:

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:3-6)

It has always been this way, so that when we find ourselves bidding farewell and Godspeed to someone we met and welcomed quite recently, really, and came to know as a friend and companion and pastor, we find ourselves carrying on a story that is as ancient as it is up to the minute.

What we do on these occasions looks much the same, whether it’s welcoming or bidding farewell: tables.

The long tables for the crock pots and casseroles and cake plates, the round tables set up in the CLC for people to gather and eat, after worship around that table in the sanctuary that is “not our table, not a Presbyterian table, not a table for ‘good people,’ but Christ’s table, and our savior invites all who trust in him …”

It looks the same, but it feels entirely different.

So even though we believe everything will be “for the best” and “OK,” and even though we trust God and “are confident of this …” and even though we are grateful for having known one another and thankful, as the prayer we prayed in church went,

For friendships made,
for joys celebrated,
and for times of nurture and growth …

For wounds healed,
expectations met,
gifts given and promises kept, …

For our fellowship in Jesus Christ,
and for the love of God, which has sustained us …

and even though we are committed to rejoicing in the Lord always, and thinking on whatsoever things are excellent and worthy of praise in the days ahead …

We did a lot of crying today.

I imagine the church has always been that way, too.