Godspeed

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

            The following are services we have used over the last decade to send members forth to new locations. The first is a pattern we have used most often, adding in personal variations. The rest offer other motifs. For the rationale for this service, especially as practiced in this congregation, read - Godspeed: an old word for a new day.


Farewell Service

                Would ________ please come forward.

                As Jesus sent 70 of his disciples ahead to spread good news, he told them: "Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'the kingdom of God has come near to you." (Luke 10:8-9)

                ____ years ago you entered this town, and became a part of our common life in Christ. We welcomed you in, and you ate our food, and shared with us your life/lives. It has been a joy to have you with us. You have touched us in many ways, and we hope our touch has been felt as well. It's amazing how in such ways as these God makes us whole. The kingdom has come near.

                All too quickly, it seems, you are on your way again. We know you will be able to join a new church family in ______, and we will be happy to know that you have become settled in this new place. But we also know that you will be missed here at ______________ church and that it will take some time to get used to the separation.

                To help you remember your time with us, we would like to give you a ________. When you (wear it/drink from it/etc.), recall that you are still a part of this family of faith, even though your new home is many miles away. Pray that God may make this garden green with other newcomers, as special to us as you have been.

                If you are able, you're welcome now to share any thoughts with us. There also will be time after worship to speak personally, face to face.    Shall we pray together:

                Lord God of all creation, we thank you for the joy of friendship. You expand our circle of love in so many ways. In the leaving of these, our friends, you are widening our fellowship even further. Our hearts, minds, and prayers will now personally include __location___.
                We ask your blessing upon _________ as they move. Bless their home. Bless their new church. Bless their work and play. Through all the changes, surround this family with your loving presence. We know that in you there is no east or west, no south or north.
                We pray this for ______, for our congregation, and for your global fellowship of faith - the church of Jesus Christ. In his name we lift up our song. Amen.

[Can be followed by a hymn, such as, "In Christ there is no east or west"]


A SERVICE OF GODSPEED

for our oldest member moving with family to Ohio
December 24, 1995

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God."   Galatians 4:4-7

On February 2nd, 1902, ____ & _____ _________ welcomed into this world a little baby girl, whom they named _____. Now, the _______ were one of the families which helped begin this congregation in the first decade of this century. For many years, the _______ lived next to the old meetinghouse. This beautiful Long Green Valley has been _____'s home from an early age on.

In 1915, she entered the stream on Prigel's farm and was baptized, claiming her inheritance as a daughter of God, through Jesus Christ, and promising to follow him all the days of her life. Long Green Valley has thus been her spiritual home for 80 years. ____ _______ is our oldest member.

Having said this, I need to immediately add that, in many ways, she is also our youngest. Anyone who has ever talked with her realizes she is a youth at heart. She is not one to bemoan the loss of days gone by, or the changes that time brings. _____ is a very forward thinker, a character trait which befits those walking toward God's Kingdom. When I visit _____, she wants to know all about what is happening in her church. Often, what I share with her she already knows. Furthermore, many times she knows more than I do. She keeps up on things.

Why am I saying all this? As many of you know, _____ is stepping out in faith this week. With her adopted family, she is moving to Ohio this Wednesday. There, she will help take care of her family, and I'm sure she will do an excellent job of it. She reminds me of the matriarch, Sarah, who journeyed with her husband Abraham toward God's promised land. Sarah, by the way, was about Anna's age at the time. God does remarkable things with people of all ages.

______ assures us that Maryland will always be her home, and she promises to visit often. We will miss her. As she goes, though, we want to assure her that she always has a home here in this Long Green Valley, in this fellowship of believers. As a token of this, we have a gift to share with her. ______ would you come forward?

This watch, _____, has a green face on it, so that every time you look at it, you may remember this home.

"Abba, Father," we ask your blessing upon our sister _____ as she journeys with her family to Ohio. Keep her young at heart. Help her to face the coming changes with your grace and peace, looking forward, not backward. Be the tie which binds us together. Bring her back often to visit. Guide us all in this Long Green Valley, as we travel toward your Kingdom. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.

(note - we celebrated this matriarch's final "godspeed," her homecoming into the Kingdom, in 1999)


Farewell Service

for a family moving to Panama
August 29, 1999
(which took place on "Camp Sunday")

During a week of summer camp, strangers meet and become friends, sharing together an all-too-brief life changing experience. On the last day comes the farewells, for camp is but one week out of a much bigger life. However, some of the relationships begun at camp continue on. Perhaps those of you who went to some camp a long time ago, still are connected in some way to a friend met there. This thing we call "community" does not end when we say "good bye" and part from one another.

Today is a "final" Sunday for one family in our fellowship. Like the last day of camp, there are mixed emotions - with the sadness of leaving and the excitement of moving on to something new. Would the ________s  please come forward.

This "goodbye" is not very easy for me, because not only have the ______s been members of this church, theyíve also been neighbors across the street from our family. When we came to this community nine years ago, you welcomed us to this new place. And then, strangely enough, we welcomed you into this fellowship.

I remember ________ talk about not really needing "church," for you could worship God out in nature. While that is very true, somehow you discovered something more among Godís people here at Long Green. I also recall planting a tree in your yard in memory of ______ís Dad after his death, and somehow that tree symbolized the growth in faith that was happening in you. Along the way there was ____ and ______ís baptism, on May 19, 1991. That water has flowed under many bridges in the years since, as God was at work in your lives.

A broken dresser, a renewed passion, saying "yes" to new possibilities. ____ has been one of our major cooks for Carpenterís Kitchen. He also did the hard technical work in creating our churchís internet web pages. And _____, how many years did you chair the witness commission? Probably feels like forever. In our neighborhood, your hand and heart will be missed in the CROP Walk, for which you have been the treasurer from the beginning. _______, what can I say? Youíve been a friend of our children, sung in the Alleluia choir, gone to Sunday School, tried to keep Papa ______ straight (no easy task). Weíll miss your spunk. I imagine there will be plenty of Goliathís youíll take down in the years ahead.

When I first heard that you were leaving, I was none too happy. But the prospect has grown on me. I think youíll do well, traveling around the world with the U.S. State department as support staff at various embassies. As you go, there are three things we want you to remember. First, though you arenít "officially" such, you go forth as our "missionaries." Share Christ wherever you are. You are his ambassadors, even more than you are representatives of our country. Second, seek out other believers wherever you are. Being part of a Christian community is vital to living a life of faith. You need all the support you can get. Finally, remember that you will always have a home here in this fellowship. We will pray for you. Pray for us, also. "I am with you always," Jesus promised, "even to the end of the age."

Is there anything you feel able, at this time, to say? ......... Here are some Long GREEN Valley T-shirts to go with you. Remember us when you wear them. ..... Letís sing together the first and fourth verses of an old hymn, "Blest be the tie that binds," #421.


Service of Farewell

for a family moving to Bangladesh
September 19, 1999

                "At the end of a goodbye walk your arms may be empty, but you are full of things to take with you - feelings and sights tucked deep inside you, memories to keep..."

(quote from The Goodbye Walk, by Joanne Ryder, illus. by Deborah Haeffele, Lodestar Books, © 1993,
 which was read as a children story just before this service by the woman leaving. The children remained up front.)

_____ and _____, this past year for you has been somewhat of a "goodbye walk," hasnít it? Our prayer along the way has been that God would give you the wisdom and strength for your journey through the difficult decisions, griefs, and joys of the past so many months. Those prayers have been and are still being answered, though perhaps not exactly how any of us envisioned. God is like that, though.

There are either some really insistent people in Bangladesh, or God is calling you, _____, to head up the research hospital in Dhaka. The more I hear of the need for peacemaking among the staff there, the more I believe your gifts may truly be suited to the task. Your gentle, but firm spirit will be a Godsend. Our hope is that your life calling as one passionately concerned about eradicating cholera and other similar deadly diseases will not get buried under the weight of bureaucratic duty.

_____, we have absolutely no doubt that you will flower wherever you are planted. You are so full of ideas, with the ability to pull things off in ways that seem almost effortless. Weíll miss your thoughtful cards, your bold invitations, your constant smile, your taste in making something simple look elegant, and your global vision. Our hope is that you will find your niche in Dhaka, where your gifts (old and new) will be put to use.

Not all that many years ago you moved from Bangladesh here. You walked with us, sharing your life, bringing with you two fine children who are now stepping out into their callings from God. You served as deacons with open and available hearts. You are givers, not takers. Itís only natural that on the back table are items from Bangladesh, that you offer to anyone who would like them. There also are self-addressed and stamped envelopes for anyone to pick up, in order to send you mail.

Your "goodbye walk" here in the states ends today, as you fly out this afternoon for your new home. We know that you may return in 3 or 6 years, but we need to take our own goodbye walk with you - sending you off with our blessing. Iím sure this has been happening already, and will continue after worship. Perhaps these children can each share a hug with you, as they feel able, to symbolize the arms of this congregation. Kids?

Hugs ... Long Green T-shirts ... Prayer

                "At the end of a goodbye walk your arms may be empty, but you are full of things to take with you - feelings and sights tucked deep inside you, memories to keep..."


Service of Godspeed

for a family moving to Maine
June 4, 2000

"They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper." (Psalm 1:3) ...and sometimes they are transplanted...

God has blessed us with a family which now is pulling up roots and moving to another state. Because it is so very important that we take the time and energy to say "goodbye" and send them off with our hugs and prayers, I now ask the ______________ family to come forward.

I know that itís easier in the short run to play down our goodbyes, to try to avoid the tears. In the long run, however, I donít believe itís healthier. I also know you are not the type who like to place yourselves in the center of attention. Humility is a virtue you exemplify so well, with loving and caring hearts often thinking about the needs of others. Therefore, I know you donít want a big deal made about your leaving... Well, tough!

We need to share with you what you have meant to us in the short time youíve walked the way of Jesus with us. We need to give our blessing along your journey. A part of us is going with you as you pack up and move to ________, Maine.

About ten years ago, our paths crossed. Returning from Africa, your lives were coming together, _________, and it was our joy to participate in your vows of faith. On May 19, 1991 the Lord led you into the waters of baptism, _______. By transfer of letter on that same day you, _______, joined in our common walk. Blessíd be the tie that binds! On September 7th of that same year, you pledged your faith in one another in this very room, joining as husband and wife.

Halfway through your first year of marriage, Godís call took you, ________, to Zambia for three months. Then in August of 1992 the two of you headed to Jamaica for a 3-year term of volunteer service with MCC. Weíve been this "Godspeed" route before, sending you off from this very room, again, on July 26th of that year. In your your absence we rejoiced over news of ______ís birth, and then celebrated your return in 1995. Along the way since then, our joy has overflowed watching ______, then ________, and now little _______ grow in the shelter of your family tent.

To say that we will miss you is an understatement. The walls of your tent have been wide, and it has been a privilege to share with you this life together in Christ. Youíve extended our mission outward, and hold a special place in our hearts. You children have added so much: your singing, your wide-eyed openness to all that God has to offer, your energy, your insight, your friendship, your playfulness, your quietness at times and exuberance at others, your mustard seed faith and even, ______, your drunken-sailor like learning how to walk - walk, which teaches us a thing or two about our own stepping out with Jesus. Thank you.

Now, if anyone wishes and feels able to add something else, I invite you to at this time... (sharing) ... ______, ______? ... There are many other opportunities to speak whatís on our hearts, please take them today and in the days to come.

Instead of "long green T-shirts," we have something else to go with you to Maine. Some knowledgeable persons in our fellowship researched the environment of your new home and found a plant that will grow well in your neck of the north woods. Do you suppose there will be a special place in your yard that you could plant this Dwarf Alberta Spruce? If so, we hope that every time you look at it you will remember the people who are the "tree" God has planted in this long green valley. Like this tree, may you grow and prosper beside your new "stream of water" (a "Long Green Valley, Northeast extension"?).

As the Psalmist sang: "They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper." May God bless you!


Godspeed Service

October 8, 2000

(sing verse 1 of "Be thou my vision" as person comes forward)

As the author of the book of Hebrews says, we may experience much of life as being out of our control, "but we do see Jesus..." (2:9) who leads the way through it all. _______, as much as anyone, you have experienced many things beyond your control, especially in the area of your health. We could go through an extensive litany of them all, from arthritis to asthma (and those are just in the "A" category). A litany would be appropriate, for much prayer has accompanied your journey thus far.

Speaking of "journey," you are on the verge of a major one, taking you to the other side of this continent, to a warmer climate which you and we hope will benefit your body. You are not a stranger to distant places, however. You entered this world in Quito, Ecuador where your parents were Brethren missionaries. Soon thereafter they returned to the states with you, eventually moving to the Baltimore area, where you were raised, and have spent most of your life, aside from college and seminary.

Indeed, you are no stranger to journeys. At Bridgewater College in Virginia you studied music. At Bethany Seminary in Chicago you received a masterís degree in Christian Education. Then you returned to Baltimore and eventually, with a bit more training, became an accountant. Your journey has taken you through more than geography, hasnít it? But now, you are stepping out again, changing your address and your career to become an "executive assistant" to the President of a company in southern California.

With you, we pray that this move will improve your health. Along the way, we encourage you to seek and find a fellowship of believers with whom to continue following Jesus. Weíve been blessed with your presence among us since 1983, and we trust that God is at work in _____________. May you discover your calling there, the mission God has for you. After all, your life began on the mission field. It continues on. If the truth be told, every Christian has a mission from God, wherever they go.

________, if thereís anything youíd like to share at this time, feel free.

In my hymnal, I have written at the bottom that #545, "Be thou my vision," is a favorite of yours, how you found it helpful during a difficult time. Whenever I sing it, I will think of you. Letís pray.

Lord of our heart, be thou our vision. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, help us to see Jesus. This we pray for our sister ________. We ask your blessing upon her journey to California. Strengthen her body in that milder climate. More important, however, build up her spirit that she might continue to walk by faith. Make clear her mission as a Christian, one anointed to continue the work of Jesus, peacefully, simply, together with others of like mind and heart. Draw her to and draw to her brothers and sisters in Christ who can support each other along the way. Bless her family as they adjust to her being so far away. We send her forth, knowing that you will grant her godspeed, a prosperous journey. In Jesusí name we pray. Amen.

Letís finish singing #545, verses 2-5.


GODSPEED
Another pattern

______ and ______, in February of 1965, you formally became a part of the Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren. For twenty seven years, you have been faithful in your membership here in this congregation, serving as Christ has called you: in our music and worship, in our church administration, in our Christian education. You know, it's probably easier to list what you haven't been involved with, than what you have.

We trust that we, as your church, have been faithful to our calling: ministering to and with you as you had need, helping nurture two boys into fine men, providing encouragement and support through the seasons of life and marriage. What more can be said? May God be glorified through it all!

As your present pastor, I serve in union with those who came before me. Speaking for and with them and this church, I want to thank you for those years shared with us. But this thanks is not just for what you have done. It's more for who you are. Thanks for the moments when we stood together in the love of Jesus, just as we were, just as we are. You opened yourselves to us, and we walked together a while. That's a privilege we have in Christ. Thanks be to God!

As you step into this new beginning, may you find a new place and people with whom to be yourselves in Christ. May our ministry to and with you be continued. Yes, in a new location, but it will be the same love and life.

PRAYER - Loving and Gracious God, who is present in every place, go with our brother and sister as they leave our midst. Guide them, protect them, bless them in this new beginning. May they discover new friends in Christ, not to replace us, but to expand the sweet fellowship we have in him who first loved us. In his name we pray. Amen.

Now _____ and ______, would you face God's people here, your friends in Christ, so that we might share with you our blessing.

(Congregation - repeats:)  May The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.

Now remember, your move to ___________ is the dawning of a new day. Amidst your grieving in leaving, Go forth with joy!


©2000, Peter L. Haynes

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