Goodbyes are always hard. As I near the end of my time at St. Paul, I wasn’t expecting to say goodbye just a year into my residency. I had plans; plans to be here for two years. I had plans; plans to really live into parish ministry and fall in love with it again. I had plans; plans to grow into my sense of being a pastor. One thing that I have learned in my adult life is that I can make all the plans in the world, but my life will not unfold in those ways. I had plans here at St. Paul, but that was not how my life was to unfold here.
One of my favorite prayers of all time is from the service “Morning Prayer,” and it reads: “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.” I love praying this prayer before many occasions, during mission trips, before the start of something new, on days when I just need a do-over, etc. As I begin another life transition, this prayer brings me more comfort and encouragement to live into the unknown.
We all have found ourselves with the best-laid plans, and found ourselves someplace other than expected. Or maybe life has taken us down a different path, treacherous or dark and unknown. But like this prayer reminds us, this is our life’s journey. We are on ventures to where we cannot see the ending, we don’t know what waits for us or if we will be placed on a different and unexpected path. But as people of faith, what we do know is that God gives us the faith to go forward in courage. What we trust in with all our hearts is that God takes our hand and leads us and supports us. As our paths go different ways, I pray this prayer for you all, grateful for our time together, and blessed as I continue on this new and unexpected venture.
– Liesebet Gravley, pastor in residence