Last Sunday I announced to the North Star Church family that I will be transitioning at the end of June to a new ministry setting. Some of our folks knew this – either because they were in positions of leadership and part of the decision-making process or maybe because of some gut level feeling they had. Either way it did not come as a shock to some while it was very shocking for others to hear; it was unexpected – literally for all of us, myself included.
The church that I am going to is St. John’s United Methodist Church here in Kansas City. I was given a printed version of their history and have been reading through it. Their roots go back to 1927 and the initial conversations about starting a Methodist church in that area. In the early 1940’s a pastor by the named of John Guice was appointed to St. John’s. He led them through their strategic planning, building phase and debt elimination. Early in 1971, after 30 years of ministry with St. John’s, Dr. Guice announced his retirement and it caught most everyone off guard. It was simply unexpected.
We humans operate in a very limited realm. Our routines, our norms that are our comfort zone and we really don’t plan for the unexpected. So when unexpected things happen it not only catches us by surprise, it also brings with it the flood of emotions. Disappointment, doubt, anger, fear, acceptance – the stages of the grief cycle in their appropriate order penetrates our comfort zone and it all of a sudden becomes uncomfortable. And by nature we focus in on what this change means for us on a personal and even individual level. Our perspective becomes inwardly focused for a period of time…our main question becomes “so what does this mean for me?”
Then comes yesterday and the unexpected news that two trash can bombs were detonated along the home stretch of the Boston Marathon race course. Several families are now facing the unexpected. A young boy named Martin did not show up for school today and he won’t tomorrow or ever again. Actually three people are unexpectedly gone from this life, 17 more are in critical condition and another 159 suffered a variety of non-life threatening injuries according to the news source I was watching. Families who are all facing the unexpected.
I guess my point is this – it’s a matter of perspective. Yes I am leaving a wonderful community of people who I have grown to love and respect and it was unexpected for all of us. But my transition does not compare to the loss of those three families. They have no power to cross the gulf between life and death; to see and touch their loved one who left this life tragically and untimely. We however, can still email, Facebook, text, or call and visit. We can coordinate our calendars and find social time to see each other. We can cross the span of a few miles and a few minutes to connect and catch up. Maybe we will simply need to look at our perspective and see if we really value the short time that we have together. As someone once said and I am reminded of “the key to a relationship is not the quantity of time you spend together but the quality of it.” So make the most of each moment that you have together before the unexpected interrupts your perspective.