Hope: Never Goodbye

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I said goodbye this week to some folks I’ve known for a long time.  They probably started coming to PCC about a decade ago – an older couple then.  They are elderly now.  With family stretched out across the country, they decided to move to a retirement community in the mid-west.  I went to their home this week to say goodbye.

They were in the back of the house, each sitting in an armchair with a pink tag on it – pink tags indicated items that were traveling with them. There weren’t many of them.  Everything else would remain here and be sold.  So I navigated the boxes and packing supplies and furniture that was organized for a move and I sat with them for a few minutes.  They reminisced about their lives, about their time here in this community.  They talked about the impact our church has had on them.  The both shared some stories from their long life history.

At one point, he got very serious and said to me, “I want you to know that after careful consideration, even though it’s legal in Seattle, we’ve decided not to smoke marijuana!” We all laughed and enjoyed a light moment, but there was something heavy underneath.  They were leaving.  They are in their 90’s.  It’s not hard to do the math.

We prayed together and cried. We all knew that we were saying goodbye.  Probably for the last time.

But not really.

The Hope that Jesus offers us through Christmas is that a goodbye here is only temporary.  At the core of Christmas  is the hope that, because of the birth  of Jesus*, we are offered life in eternity with him.

John, the disciple of Jesus and author of one of the four gospels, concluded his book with this single statement:

“these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31, NIV)

We always think of Christmas as a new beginning and new life represented in the Baby in a manger.  And it’s true.  Because of Jesus’ coming*, we get invited to a new life, which includes the hope for life after this one.

 

So take some time and think about the people you’d said goodbye to in your life. People you’ve lost to distance and time.  People you’ve lost to death.  Imagine the reunion that God offers us with others who also follow Jesus with their lives.  That is a key part of the reaon for Christmas:  Hope for life in eternity.

Pray today thanking God for this great hope – that death and distance are not the demise of relationships for us, but are only temporary for those who have placed their life in Jesus Christ!

 

*And his death, burial and resurrection

2 Responses to “Hope: Never Goodbye”

  1. Anneliesa Gaunt

    Brian,
    Thank you for the eloquent goodbye story. Because of you sharing today the messages from people who have been helped by PCC I thought it necessary to share mine too. Our family started at PCC when it first started it’s West Chester movie theater campus with Sammy Frame.
    PCC family has been with me thru so very much that I could write a small novel about it.
    This year has been the most painful for my family as my Multiple Sclerosis has brought many hardships for my husband Jerry and my 18 year old daughter and 15 year old son to carry due to it’s progression. I drove to the mail campus in desperation crying and battling with crushing suicidal thoughts and sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes watching people leave and come. You walked in with others and I made my way into the building with my rollator assisting me in the very long walk into the church and office. It literally felt like 5 miles in with each step feeling like I was trying to lift unbendable hardwood logs thru mud ( my legs).
    I went to the office and asked if you were available as I needed help. The secretary said she was unsure if you were in but thought Pastor Pope was. Just so you know I was still crying… He came out introduced him self and offered himself or Angie to talk to. Talking to him for the next hour and praying with him before I left gave me hope that I would be prayed for and my family would be prayed for. I give Pastor Pope permission to share more of the story with you as I’ ve been called away from my note to you by family.
    Blessings,
    Anneliesa Gaunt

    Reply
    • Bryan Pope

      Anneliesa,
      It was an honor to meet with you that day and to be part of your family’s life now. God spoke to both of us that day. You and I talked about Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, In Ephesians 3:16 you quoted this with such conviction, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being.”
      You are so strong! Your family is strong and they love you. I am inspired by you and your family and God continues to work through you. I continue to pray for you all and I want you to know we are here for you,

      Reply

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