Exodus 1:8 – 2:10 I have to tell you that these last three months of saying goodbye have been excruciating. It’s hard to say goodbye, There has been and continues to be a lot of grief for me. Part of the difficulty has also been that I have been fighting my natural style of saying goodbye. Some years back as part of my ministry training, I actually attended some training on saying goodbye to a congregation. The facilitator talked about two different styles of saying goodbye. To illustrate she used the example of two different people leaving a party. One person she called “quick split Samantha” and the other “linger longer Louie”. Quick split Samantha decides it’s time to go and she will say goodbye to the host and the people she sees as she walks toward the door, but other than that she is pretty much gone in a flash. Linger longer Louie goes to the furthest point from the door and begins saying goodbye to every person along the way back to the door. Not a perfunctory goodbye but a mini conversation usually ensues. Which one are you? Which one is your beloved? I am a quick split Samantha; when I decide it’s time to go I want to leave quickly. What is needed is a balance; you want to respect the importance of saying goodbye without hanging around too long and getting in the way of people moving on without you.
As part of my attempt to find that balance and intentionally linger a bit longer I went back to my first Sunday, my first sermon on November 19, 2006. In that first sermon I talked about some of the things I’d noticed in the sanctuary, the names on the stained glass windows, the cross which I had been informed was made out of the timbers of the old church. I remarked how these things brought home how things change, but the journey of faith continues. I said that to journey in faith is to trust the One who calls us to love in all circumstances—love God, love one another, and love our world. To journey in faith is to let the love of God flow through us out into the world.
I think that’s the theme of our faith story this morning. What struck me most is just how vulnerable love is in this story. I do not mean how risky it was for the midwives to defy the Pharaoh, for Moses’ mother to send her child down the river and for the Pharaoh’s daughter to take in a Hebrew baby. I mean how dependant every act of love was on the choices of the person who received it. Just like the waters of the River Nile, love flows from one set of characters to the other—Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives defy Pharaoh by not killing male Hebrew children, causing Moses to be born. Moses’ mother out of love for the child sends him down the river. Pharaoh’s daughter touched by the plight of the child takes him in. We know the rest of the story; the result is the liberation of a people from slavery. There is a flow of love in this story from one person to the next. The love flows because of the choices that each character makes. Love is vulnerable, it is dependent on our choices; we can stop it in its tracks or allow it to continue flowing. The journey of faith in the everyday is the choice to let that love flow through us.
As I look back on our ministry together that is how I see it. In the midst of tumultuous and challenging times for the Church, we sought to let the love of God flow through us. It’s been a messy process at times. We went through two visioning processes, trying to discern what it means to be church in our time and place. The outcome of those processes has been that we heard a clear call that the love of God flowing through us in our time means opening ourselves up to the community around us in a more expansive way, engaging in relationships.
There are so many other ways that we let the love of God flow through us. There were the hospitality lunches, pastoral care visits, exploring adding housing to our property, Christmas dinners, gifts for Belvedere, concerts for Haiti and Japanese earthquake victims, participation in the Idle No More events, funding an Ojibway language camp, 10,000 Villages sales and bake sales, Mary Street Boutique, Listening for the Soul groups, hosting 12 step groups, karaoke nights, back to school backpack campaign, community gardens, community kitchens, after church fellowship and on and on.
My family and I have been beneficiaries of the flow of love that has come through so many of you to us. Whether that was the welcome we received or the moral, prayer and tangible support we received during my son’s, daughter’s and my own illnesses. I have been heartened by your kind words that say that I have also been a conduit for the love of God into your lives as well.
The love of God is a vulnerable thing, whether it flows or not is dependent on our choices. Behind these choices lay a greater truth and a deeper grace. A truth and a grace that is revealed to us in the story of Moses’ beginnings and in God’s work in our lives. It is simply this, while the love of God is indeed vulnerable, as vulnerable as a baby floating down a river in a basket, the truth is that it flows from its source constantly and continuously. Love is inexhaustible, the more you let God have her way with you, the more you let love flow, the more abundant the flow. This is grace. This is gift. You never know what people will do with gifts. But, the Giver doesn’t stop. The love of God flows constantly, waiting for us to receive it and pass it on so that peoples can be liberated, wounds healed, potential reached, wholeness arrived at, enemies reconciled and creation mended.
It’s almost time to split, there is only a short time left to linger, our ministry together is ending. I ended that first sermon by asking God to bless us that this community and our world might be richer for our journeying together. I think we can look back and say with all gratitude and humility that is the case. May God bless us as we seek to be conduits of God’s love in different places.
(August 20, 2017-11th Sunday after Pentecost)
 Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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