After more than a decade as a chaplain and scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America, I have appreciated what it means to "be prepared". Perhaps this story from an unknown author will illustrate how I feel about my retirement from the parish ministry. This is a parable.
A young man applied for a job as a farmhand. When the farmer asked him for his qualifications, he said, "I can sleep through a storm."
This puzzled the farmer.
But he liked the young man, so he hired him.
A few weeks later, the farmer and his wife were awakened in the night by a violent storm ripping through the valley. He leaped out of bed and called for his new hired hand, but the young man was sleeping soundly.
So they quickly began to check things to see if all was secure. They found that the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened. A good supply of logs of been set next to the fireplace.
The farmer and his wife then inspected their property. They found that the farm tools have been placed in the storage shed, safe from the elements. Even the bales of wheat had been bound and wrapped in tarpaulins. The tractor had been moved into its garage. The barn was properly locked tight. And the animals were calm and had plenty of feed. All was well.
The farmer then understood the meaning of the young man's words, "I can sleep through a storm."
Because the farmhand did his work loyally and faithfully when the skies are clear, he was prepared for any storm. So when the storm did actually break, he was not concerned or afraid. He could sleep in peace.
The moral to the story is here in my sincere list of farewells, which is the way we talk about leaving those we love and care about in the church.
Farewell to all who have been loyal and true to their promise of support for my ministry.
Farewell to all who have given their lives in the service of our Lord during my ministry.
Farewell to all who have not forgotten to pray, praise, and give thanks for my ministry in their midst.
Farewell to all who have truly prepared during our years together in Word and Sacraments for the stormy days ahead.
Farewell to all who know the job has been done well, and we can sleep through the storm.
Farewell to all who have not only read my stories, but have been listening to my sermons.
Farewell to all who prepared for the storm by studying my thesis on living forgiven.
Farewell to all with whom it is been my privilege to serve.
See you in church one last time June 29, 2014.
Your Pastor and friend,