Preparing for Worship – George Mason.
For the first half of my tenure as senior pastor, I wrote a weekly column for the church newsletter titled By George. It was by me, of course, so the appellation fit. But it also gestured toward the exclamation we sometimes use when wonder strikes us unawares.
Faith begins and ends in wonder. In between we try to put words to it, to make sense of it. But like good art or great love, if you can explain it, you’ve probably drained all the mystery out of it. Settled faith is a corpse without a pulse — only a semblance of life.
The writer Frederick Buechner, who passed from us just this month, said: “Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. It is on-again-off-again rather than once-and-for-all. Faith is not being sure where you’re going, but going anyway. A journey without maps.”
Whether from pulpit, podium or pen, I have tried to invite you to join me on that journey without maps under the guidance of our spiritual forebears and the fore-bearing/forbearing Spirit. Faith lives on the frontier of what we know and what we don’t know. It believes more than it sees and sees more with the heart than the head. Faith moves us toward greater aliveness even in the shadow of doubt, despair and death.
This is my last column as your senior pastor before slipping into a pew near you. Last words have a eulogistic overtone as if death is pending. And, of course, every ending portents that final ending. But let these last words only be a summing up of a long season of gratitude for the life we have shared, the adventures of faith we have been on together, and the love that will not let us go.
By George, it’s been a honor and a joy to have traveled this journey with you. I have been changed for good and for good. And now, I suppose, Bye, George is the more fitting sign-off. But if our faith teaches us anything, life always has the last word. So, I’ll be seeing you … from here to eternity.