It seems I am confronted with the end of an era. Or maybe I should say several eras.
First, there was the day this winter when Randy and I realized we were scraping the last bit of strawberry jam from a jar. This was jam made by his mother in 2014—the year before she died. We are now a few days away from the second year anniversary of her death. How conscious we were as we ate the last sweetness spread on the bread. It was one of those connections we still had with my mother-in-law. Like calling my father-in-law on the phone and hearing HER voice on the answering machine. (I don’t fault him for leaving her voice there. Were I in his shoes, I probably would do the same.) But the jam, on the other hand, was meant to be consumed, the jar emptied and washed and dried. And it was kind of sad to mark the end of that era.
My daughter Sarah wants to make Grandma’s strawberry jam some day, so we’ll root through her recipe file and find it. But even if Sarah does make it sometime in the future, the point is we ate the last of the jam that Grandma made.
Then, in early March I attended the Camp Hill High School musical, “James and the Giant Peach.” The students did a great job, and my daughter Rebecca (class of ’15) and I enjoyed the evening. But as I looked over the program and read through the names of cast and orchestra pit members, I realized I only knew a few kids. It hasn’t even been quite two years since Rebecca graduated from Camp Hill, and, yet, already I don’t know the students. A few I recognized from the marching band. A few last names were familiar because older siblings went through the school system while one of our three children was there. But mostly these were all new names and faces. The end of an era where I still felt somehow connected with the school district (beyond paying taxes).
Next, in mid-March our subscription to the Harrisburg newspaper, The Patriot-News, expired. Our choice. The editorial decision to move to three editions per week was an unwelcome change for us a couple years back. Nothing like getting a newspaper with three-day old news. Randy and I had already made the switch to reading local news online. We kept getting the paper out of habit. Randy liked the Sunday editorial and finance sections. I liked the grocery coupons and the features pages. We both read the cartoons. But to continue paying that much money for a thin paper three days a week, which often came late, was a no-brainer for us. The end of an era as we moved away from newsprint.
And finally, I am coming to the end of my time as a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. April 30 is my final Sunday, where I’ll preach at the Contemporary Service I’ve helped lead for 17 years. Now, THIS is the end of an era for me. I can’t quite recall what life was like pre-Trinity. It will seem strange not to pull into the lower parking lot on a Sunday morning. People that I see numerous times in a week I now will probably see only on occasion. Since it is appropriate for me to take my membership and join another congregation, the rhythm of worship life and fellowship to which I have become accustomed will be a part of my past. If Trinity’s members think only they will need to adjust to my leaving, I hope they realize I will need to adjust to my leaving as well!
Of course, the end of things also means that there is a beginning that follows. I see that in the springtime blooms around our yard. As the forsythia and cherry tree blossoms fade to green leaves, it becomes time for the dogwood to shine. And when the dogwood blossoms are done, our azaleas take center stage. After that, it’s up to me to plant those annuals, and hope that my non-green thumb still produces some color in the yard!
Endings and beginnings are simply a way of life. I mourn what is left behind or what draws to a close, but I also await to embrace what is yet to come. So it seems fitting to leave Trinity behind in the season of Easter—the season we most recognize endings and beginnings.
The newspaper doesn’t land in our driveway anymore (but I prefer the larger print on my iPad anyway). New children are moving into our neighborhood, and someday they will march in the band and sing in the chorus and join the Quiz Bowl team. Eventually, Sarah and I will hunt down that strawberry jam recipe, and while we are at it, we can also try making Grandma’s pot pie and crab imperial and custard pie and sugar cakes.
And I trust God has new beginnings planned—for me, and for the loving congregation I will leave behind.