A Service of Farewell
By Rev. Rick Carter, Director for Evangelical Mission
“A Service of Farewell” was written on the front of the bulletin for Breath of Life Lutheran Church in Blythewood, SC. Seeing those words evoked feelings of grief and loss – death seemed to permeate the air and would set the tone for the day. Seeing those words evoked feelings of grief and loss – death seemed to permeate the air and would most certainly set the tone for the day. There were those moments in the service of tears and at times laughter that seemed out of place. It was a funeral, but not your typical funeral. A congregation was closing. I had no idea the range of emotions that I would experience that day. I asked a lot of questions of myself, of the congregation, the synod and each question began with “what if” or “if we would have”, just maybe the outcome would have been different. How do we dare celebrate in this time?
Just when you think that all is in vain, God enters in. Though Breath of Life was coming to a close in this particular time and place, God spoke. God spoke not only in word and sacrament, but in the story. The story from Gwen Kaiser, a member of Breath of Life. Taking a rest from all the business of preparing to close, Gwen listened in the silence for God’s voice. God revealed to her once more the promise to always listen and be present and Gwen began to write.
“My church is closing, Father.
I know you’re sad, Child.
My church family is scattering like dandelions in the wind, Father.
They are disciples, Child.
Where do I go to serve you, Father?
Listen to the Breath of Life, Child —
The answer is in the Wind.
The Holy Spirit
A Psalm by Gwen Kaiser
Through Gwen’s story I could celebrate the day. She reminded me and all who gathered that Sunday, that we are not forsaken, nor forgotten, but are disciples. Called and sent to be the breath of life. Death no longer ruled the day, for there was life even in the midst of this Service of Farewell.
Breath of Life Lutheran served faithfully as witnesses of the Gospel. Individuals and families of the Blythewood area were blessed and encouraged through the ministry of those who had the courage to start something new. I am grateful to all who helped to make God’s kingdom present to so many and thanks be to God for the gift of hope and promise we all share in our Lord Jesus the Christ.