Read Acts 20:36-38
36-38 With these words he knelt down with them all and prayed. All of them were in tears,and throwing their arms round Paul’s neck they kissed him affectionately. What saddened them most of all was his saying that they would never see his face gain. And they went with him down to the ship. (JBP)
It is so hard saying goodbye to people,especially if we suspect we will never see them again. Especially if they have meant so much to us and we have meant so much to them. Which was Paul’s situation as he left Ephesus. Paul figured he was headed for trouble back in Jerusalem but he was not going to linger at Ephesus.
Life is full of introductions to new places,situations,and people. And it is full of farewells to these. We get settled and then move on. We befriend people and we separate from them through geography or mortality. The seasons of our life move on relentlessly. Those farewells can become occasions of fear and dread.
And yet they are also opportunities to embrace some new season,some new relationship. Doors close and others open. This doesn’t remove the sadness or poignancy that comes from saying ‘goodbye’,but it does open us up to the possibility of gladness when we say a subsequent ‘hello’.
As a pilgrim people we get used to farewells and introductions,the rhythms of sadness and gladness that are unavoidable elements of being human and in relationship with other humans. Thankfully,when it comes to our relationship with our God we need rehearse no farewells. With him there are only fresh welcomes.