Saturday, August 26, 2006

Auf wiedersehen

Roger's last Sunday with us is to-morrow. His last "official duty" is the Andy Griffith class on Wednesday August 30. This posting represents the closing lines in the final chapter of the the book "Roger at Pinehill" ; a book which began in December 1995. This closing chapter started on June 25 2006 (see Changes at Pinehill -posted June 27 2006). Of course in September, (God willing) God will begin the sequel (Roger at Troy).

During the past week we have been saying “goodbye” to Roger & Sandra. Farewell’s to people you love are always painful and difficult. We try to sidestep this by saying that it is for the best, by celebrating the good times we have shared and by being happy for the new opportunities we will experience as a result – but the truth is that saying goodbye hurts.

The farewells started on Sunday at our monthly potluck when we presented Roger & Sandra with an afghan embroidered with their names and dates that that they were with us here. There was also a gift for Jessica although she wasn’t present – she was spending sometime visiting in Thunder Bay to get familiar with her new home. (Again I forgot my camera so the picture is from Thursday night).

Lloyd & I expressed our appreciation (on behalf of the congregation) for their (almost) 11 years of hard work and faithful service to the Lord at Pinehill. We recalled that the first weekend they were here. In December 1995 Sault Ste. Marie experienced a record snowfall and we had to cancel services – so his inaugural sermon was delayed. I guess they are leaving in September to avoid a repeat of this.

Tuesday morning Lloyd & Barbara and Linda & I had breakfast with Roger & Sandra at Sandro’s . This was Linda’s idea. I think she wanted to find out what we talked about so long almost every Tuesday morning for the past couple of years

She also gave them a wall hanging and welcome sign that she had bought (and failed to give them) as a housewarming present when they bought their house a few years ago. Now they will have something to "warm" their new home in Troy.

Thursday evening many of their church friends gathered for a farewell dinner at Giovanni’s (and this time I did bring my camera!!) It was an informal event although there were more gifts and we where able to honor Jessica as well. (She returned from Thunder Bay with the news that she was going to be rooming with Kyle & Anna which made her parents happy— for both financial and family reasons. )

The event was organized by Leona Devin and Barb King(somehow I didn't get a picture of Leona that night - this one was taken today at another event) .

Jack & Barb had become especially good friends with Roger & Sandra – Jack & Roger sharing a passion for hunting and other “fix up” projects around their homes.

Barb is a compassionate wise lady with a heart of gold and someone who is a good “sounding board” when dealing with the “people problems” which are part & parcel of the life of a preacher & his wife.

Most of the others who attended had had their lives touched in special ways through Roger’s ministry. I was asked to be “master of ceromonies” and rather than crying along with Sandra while trying to make yet another speech, I opened the floor to allow anyone present to comment. I didn’t take “minutes” so I apologize in advance if I miss someone or misquote someone but I wanted to share some of the comments that I do recall.

Kirk Smith had several comments. Now Kirk is very out spoken and sometimes people “cringe” when he says he has something to say -- but the reality is he speaks from the heart and says it like he sees –. always “authentic” -- . which is a good thing. There was some kidding around with Roger but beneath it was the encouragement of telling us how Roger had made a difference in his “life journey”-- encouraging his faith and introducing him to the Pinehill family. We pray that we can continue to grow together in this walk. (see the June 24 entry Wedding Joy for more about Kirk and his lovely wife Vicki)

Steve Rose commented on the fact that the thing he liked most about Roger was that he challenged him to think. Sometimes it made him angry, sometimes he disagreed but he never was left “in a rut”. ( Steve (in middle) & Jillena attended Pinehill for several years but now attend a church in Michigan closer to where they live - We were happy that they were able to make the trip across the border in the midst of a slow down by Candain customs workers to attendthis gathering)

In a similar vein, Ilse Herzog (see - near the bottom of - my May 28 posting for more about the Herzog’s) recounted a story from when she worked and had a boss that everybody “disliked” because he was always changing things, always challenging the “status quo”. However, when this person moved on she was in tears and told him “I never thought that I would be sad because you are leaving but I am”.

In the same way she had often felt that Roger’s approach was lacking, that she disagreed with him . However, she had also had many long conversations on spiritual issues and had been challenged to grow. So, her feeling about Roger leaving was the same “I never thought it would be true but I’m very sad that he is going” – (as an aside – growth at almost 80 years for a lady who has has been an example of faith and a knowledgable Bible student for many years is no mean feat and I felt humbled by this acknowledgement that we can all continue to learn no matter how long we have been Christians or how old we are)

My Dad recalled knowing Roger when he was “knee high to a grasshopper” and mused that he guessed that this “bratty little kid” had turned out OK . Barb Hotchkiss commended Sandra. Marion Long recounted her first experience in meeting Roger and making a comment -- that made for a good laugh as she recounted it. Something about Roger complaining that the bedroom at their house was very small and Marion responding – “Well what do you do in a bedroom anyway?” We’ll leave that alone -- which Roger said was the only response he could make at the time. for her work this what he says is very authentic and what he had to say was sharing in his journey – with its ups & downs – is encouraging to all of us.

For all of these comments – joking or serious -- positive or “spurring” -- there was a hearty round of “amen’s” which seemed to say that others shared the sentiment that was being expressed. I can only hope that Roger listened more to the “ encouragement to improve” than he did to the accolades - because he needs humility more than hubris (sorry Rog - I couldn’t resist )

Roger started his tenure here with a series on the sermon on the mount. I guess I should have been suspicious when he came back to that foundational set of lessons by Jesus earlier this year. One thing that Roger has done which has benefited many of us is that he has always researched and restudied each passage of scripture looking for a fresh approach and new insights in his sermons – rather than just dusting off a previous lesson—or using a sermon outline from someone else’s book.

He has encouraged us to be “Bereans”(searching the scriptures for God’s truth ) (Acts 17:11). He has consistently challenged us to seek to know Jesus – to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Most importantly, he challenged us to avoid the “comfortable pew” of tradition, to be careful about regurgitating the same answers to the same questions – which are often answers to questions that people weren’t asking or answers that didn’t make sense to people because they weren’t relevant to that persons’s needs and experience. As I said on Sunday “Of course he made mistakes (and even admitted to some of them); of course we sometimes thought he was wrong but that often led to an open loving dialog that brought us both closer to truth. (knowing the heart of Jesus)

How do you say “goodbye” to a friend and encourager? I thought of the phrase “until we meet again” and have used the German version of that in the title (influenced by the German heritage of the Herzog’s and Steve Rose –perhaps but mostly because I like the way it sounds. and the theme of "until we meet again)

I “googled” “until we meet again” to get the spelling and discovered a list of how to say has Goodbye in 450 languages.

I also got thinking about how did people say Goodbye in the Bible. My blogging friend Dee Andrews (click Here) recently ran a contest about trees. So I’m starting a contest on “Unique ways of saying Goodbye to friends who are “moving on” . I’ll “plagarize” Dee’ rules and include them in a later post. But for now just email your entries to mlw@soonet.ca . I’ll give a special prize (actually the prize is being acknowledged in this blog) for “Goodbyes in the Bible” I have dibs on David & Jonathan (1 Samuel 19 & 20).

Of course there is room for a category “songs of Goodbye” and I include these 2 as starters.

Happy Trails by Roy Rogers and Dale Evens –with alternative 1st verse

Happy trails to you, it's great to say "hello".
And to share with you the trail we've come to know.
It started on the day that we met Jesus,
He came into our hearts and then he freed us.
For a life that's true, a happy trail to you.

Some trails are happy ones,Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

God Be With You (Jeremiah E. Rankin, 1828-1904 William G. Tomer, 1832-1896)
God be with you till we meet again;
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus' feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
Neath His wings protecting hide you;
Daily bread still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus

God be with you till we meet again;
When life's perils thick confound you;
Put His arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus

God be with you till we meet again;
Keep love's banner floating o'er you,
Strike death's threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus

So to Roger, Sandra, Jessica (and Kyle & Anna)

- See you later, Hasta la vista, Caio, Sayonara, Auf wiedersehen

Go with God our friends and May God Bless you richly
Charlie & Linda

2 comments:

Roger said...

Thanks for the comments. To have monpolized so much blog space over the last while has been humbling and somewhat emabarassing. I shared with you early in this process that my aim was to move towards our departure in a way that was God honoring. I hope that we have been able to achieve that. In my last lesson today I shared and want to share again my hope and prayer for each one at Pinehill.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

JD said...

I'm sorry for you guys that Roger has moved. I know you have deep respect and love for him - from our conversations when you were on the Coast. God bless you as you search for a new minister.