“The Parting Glass” is a traditional folk song that was, and still is, popular in Ireland and Scotland. When a gathering of friends would come to an end, the song would be sung. The “Parting Glass” was the final hospitality that would be given to a departing guest, something to fortify them for the journey.
This song, as sung by Kellianna, came up in the music shuffle I was listening to a couple of weeks ago when I was flying home from a visit to St. Louis to teach a Nollau To You session at Emmaus Homes. It would be my final trip as a part of the CHHSM team, and I was feeling nostalgic. You see, my first trip as part of CHHSM was to St. Louis. It was my first time learning about the work and ministry of our member organizations. It was the first time I attended the Nollau Leadership Institute. It was the first time I finally understood who this community I was being called to serve was. And I was in awe.
Five-and-a-half years later I am preparing to depart this gathering of friends. Our Still Speaking God has been working in my spirit and is calling me to my next ministry. And, amazingly, it is to do something I never thought I could do. I will be the pastor of First Congregational UCC in Winona, Minn. Never in my earliest dreams of ministry did I imagine congregational ministry was how I was called to serve God’s community. I thought it was because I didn’t want to, that I would be no good at it. But, it has been my time with CHHSM, my interaction with its members and partners, with all of you, that has prepared me to take this big step.
Please understand, CHHSM has not and will never be, just a step along the way. My ministry with and for all of you has been my purpose, passion, and drive for so long. I have loved every moment of it and I am leaving with joy in my heart for all of you. More importantly, it has been my time with all of you that has helped me to better understand what church means and what it must become in the future. My ministry with the local church will be to help them follow your example. For that blessing, and so many others, thank you.
I will carry you in my hearts and in my prayers. You will forever be my people, and I yours. God’s Grace, Peace, Blessings, and Passion be with you today and every day. So, “Fill to me the parting glass. Farewell and joy be with you all.”