Farewell. It’s a word we don’t use terribly often in modern English. But it’s an activity in which we must all engage … farewelling those who pass from the scenes of our lives, or at least from the everyday scenes. And we’ve become quiet experienced at it here at PRBC. For, in the decade-and-a-half that this has been my church home, the Lord has seen fit, both to gather a handful of our number into His heavenly presence, and also to send a great many handfuls of PRBCers to live, work, and worship in other earthly locales. And so we’ve had to wish a great many people God’s blessings as they have gone on from our fellowship. And we do so again this coming Sunday.
Now, in this day of phones, email, automobiles, and airplanes, farewelling a moving friend is not nearly so stark a goodbye as it once would have been. I am able to stay in quite easy touch with former PRBCers in Washington, and in Florida, and in many places in between. And so maybe we don’t feel these sorts of farewells as keenly as we might have if we’d lived in the days of the covered wagon. But it’s still hard to see people go. And it’s hard to be the one who goes (probably harder, in many cases).
And yet I am reminded today, as our brother and sister and their children depart from us, that even if they were heading out on the Oregon Trail, never to see our faces again in this life; or even if they were departing this life altogether … the farewelling would only be for this life. Because, for the believer in Jesus Christ – in addition to being “always … with the Lord”, and being finally rid of our sin forever – the eternal world that lies before us will also be a grand reunion of the saints, will it not? As my friend Eileen once told me, on her way into surgery, ‘I will see you soon … either here, or there!’ And she was right! If we are in Christ, we will see our Christian friends again! Perhaps face-to-face, thanks to automobiles or airplanes. Maybe on FaceTime or Skype. But assuredly in glory!
Now, I doubt there will be a Pleasant Ridge seating area in eternity. But we will all be in the same congregation together once again! And I feel confident we will track one another down, and fellowship together, once again, just as we did here at the crest of this hill in Cincinnati (only, in that day, we will do it without time constraints or sin!). And so, in this day of farewells, we look to that day of reunions. And thus we can be “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”