Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

On Retiring from Parish Ministry – 25 November 2018

Today, Lord, what shall I say?
What is there to say
when one enters
for the last time
the pulpit from which
one has preached
for more than fifteen years?
Shall I say that I have loved
these people
that I have held them in my heart
as tenderly as I held my
newborn children,
that I have loved them as fiercely
as a spouse on a wedding night?
Some might believe,
some don’t, some won’t,
and sometimes
I may not believe it myself,
even though I know
it is true.
Shall I say, Lord, that . . .
sometimes . . .
I have hated this ministry
to which you called me,
been frustrated with it,
but nonetheless
I have appreciated it
and celebrated it
and now regret that
we are terminating it?
Some may think that,
some may question that,
some may laugh, and
some may cry
and sometimes . . .
I really don’t know the truth of it.
I know, Lord, that
we have frustrated one another,
that we have irritated one another,
even as we have motivated
and consecrated one another,
and some may have thought
that occasionally we may even
have hated one another . . .
but I have never hated this flock.
I have loved them!
Although the line, it is said,
between hate and love
is a thin one easily crossed
for both arise from passion
both burn with fire
the same fire
the fire of faith
the fire of your Spirit, Lord.
We have been, I suppose,
in many ways like siblings
who cannot wait to be apart
and yet
long for the comfort
of being together.
We have been, I suppose,
in many ways like old spouses
who cannot bear to be apart
and yet
long for the freedom
of being single.
We have had our trials;
we have had our triumphs;
our ins and our outs;
our downs and our ups;
Such it is with old spouses,
and with siblings,
and with pastors and parishes.
Such it is
with all relationships of passion.
Together, we have had great successes
we have had miserable failures
we have planned and planned
and planned again
and we have failed to plan;
and through it all
despite success,
despite failure,
despite plans,
and failures to plan
we have sought to be
faithful
to one another and
faithful
to you, God.
If nothing else,
we have sought that,
to be faithful to you.
Give us grace, Lord,
to keep doing that . . . .
Let us look back on what has been
and know that.
Let us not say that it was bad
though it sometimes was
Let us not say that it was good
though it often was
Let us say instead
that it was passionate
as it always was, and
Let us say
“We sought to be faithful.”
Help us, Lord, look to the future
theirs
mine
no longer ours
but always yours.
Give us grace, O God,
to look to the future
and seek still to be faithful
passionately.

–– C. Eric Funston
25 November 2018

2 Comments

  1. Diane

    This brought tears to my eyes. i Wish I could be there today for your last day. Thank you for your ministry among us.

  2. Laura Slocumb

    Beautiful poem. So true
    With all relationships!

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