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April 5, 2015
The last day of my active ministry has come and is almost gone. It was as I had imagined it would be, and it was also nothing like that. In many ways, it was like all the other days that preceded it.

I was unable to decide if 35 years is a long time or a short time -- I still can't tell. I became ill during my sermon, reminding me why it is time to retire, but was able to fumble my way to the end of it. Chris Jones had come to join in our Easter celebration, and so she was able to step in seamlessly while I left the sanctuary to recover. A few years ago she was my student. I used to coach her in the art of celebrating the Eucharist. Now, she is a more able colleague. When I returned, she motioned toward the chalice and paten, offering me a chance to finish the ritual she had begun. No, I motioned, a small brushing-aside motion of the fingers, go ahead. Her beautiful voice continued the prayer of consecration. Her hands were sure in their handling of the chalice and the paten. Nicely done, I thought to myself. All is well.

We are all here, the living and the dead. Leadership moves from one generation to another, but the church continues, bound together by love and the memory of love, right back to the beginning. Here is an Easter poem by James Farwell, Professor of Theology and Liturgy at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.


The first word was love.
Then the mistakes, the hurts
done to us and to others,
every good thing,
every lost love,
every good intention ended badly,
every bad choice redeemed,
every step in the dark toward
an unknown destination:
Love had already arrived.
And the last word is love.
That's all there is.

James Farwell

Published with permission.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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