I used the service of Farewell and Godspeed in the Lutheran Service Book Agenda the other night. It is published by Concordia Publishing House and if you are a pastor and don’t have this book I recommend that you get it. If you know that your Pastor doesn’t have it I would recommend that you get it for him for Christmas. Know that Pastor appreciation month is over a really neat gift this would be. CPH has a catalogue, you can view this online and most churches have the CPH catalogue somewhere. Anyway I digress.
There are a lot of services for leave taking and farewells in this book. It is fitting I guess, because that is really so much of what life is. Life is as much about endings as it is about beginnings. If you think about it the doctrine of Justification is really about what happens at the end. The Bible is plain that our end collectively is total destruction. Everything will pass away or be destroyed and yet we look for a deliverer, who will change our vile bodies to be fashioned like his glorious body. The end of all things is the beginning of our final deliverance and a new life, an eternal life.
The farewell the other night was for people who are moving across the country. They haven’t passed away. Yet a loss is a loss and the idea of parting has with it the feel of a death. Strangely for Christians a death has the “feel” of a move across the country.