When I hear those words, I think of that classic song by The Beatles “Hello, Goodbye”– a whole song consisting of mainly the words hello and goodbye. You say “Goodbye”, I say “Hello, hello, hello!”
As Autumn is now amongst us, it seems fitting for BCEC to move on to the topic of changing seasons.
There have certainly been a number of goodbyes recently, and on the plus side, a lot of hellos. But going through the motions of transition can always be tough for all of us.
Let’s talk about hellos first. For me, being new to BCEC and Birmingham, I know I’ve had to say a lot of hellos. What’s great is being welcomed with a warm hello: people inviting me places and events, wanting to spend time getting to know me. It’s incredibly nice to get such hellos! But there is also an element of uncertainty to it. The newness and unfamiliarity in everything can sometimes make you crave for the “old home”, somewhere you are used to that now feels like a safe-haven. And it’s tough to start over again, trying to settle and find for yourself a new group of trusted friends. Regardless of whatever new chapter you are starting in your life, it does take time to adjust to a new environment and the people in it. And of course you can’t help but miss the people you left behind…
Goodbyes. Nobody likes goodbyes. They can be a painful time, especially if you’ve grown attached to a place or to a group of friends. I personally don’t like goodbyes, and when a good friend leaves (more permanently), I am like a typical Chinese person, working to conceal my emotions. But the goodbye only truly hits when you go about your day-to-day business and think about said friend (for instance want to ring them up), only to realise they are gone. Then sadness comes because you miss them. It’s hard to try and continue on without them. But alas, this is life. People pass through for only a season.
But the true beauty is that though people come and people go, it isn’t all for nothing. I heard someone say once that it simply means God has used them in your life and now it’s time to send them elsewhere so they can bless others. Their purpose in your life and that environment has been fulfilled. So let’s focus on embracing the new people and making them feel welcomed. It is painful to say goodbye, but it’s even better to say hello. I know the newcomers would appreciate it and it’d help them settle in and feel a part of this new place. And what’s even more amazing is knowing that we will one day be reunited in heaven with those we bid farewell to. I personally take great comfort in knowing that God has reserved a space for me in Heaven with my friends and family members.
So it can’t all be too bad to say hello and goodbye. Surely it’s a “See you later!”
I’ll leave you with this story Bert shared in the sermon:
On that last day I met C.S. Lewis at the Eastgate for lunch. We talked, I recall, about death or, rather, awakening after death…
“At all events,” he said with a cheerful grin, “we’ll certainly meet again, here–or there.” Then it was time to go, and we drained our mugs. When we emerged on to the busy High with the traffic streaming past, we shook hands, and he said: “I shan’t say good-bye. We’ll meet again.”
Then he plunged into the traffic. I stood there watching him. When he reached the pavement on the other side, he turned around as though he knew somehow that I would still be standing there in from of the Eastgate. Then he raised his voice in a great roar that easily overcame the voice of the cars and buses. Heads turned and at least one car swerved. “Besides,” he bellowed with a great grin, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!”
(A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, p123)
(However, if you worry about not being able to guarantee seeing friends or family members in Heaven, I challenge you to pray for them and to share the true gift of knowing Jesus with them.)