Pastoral Perspectives

A Tale Of Two Farewells

It was a Wednesday evening and I had just entered the house after returning back from EDC meeting. The look on my mom’s face wasn’t good and I knew in my heart that a dear family friend had finally succumbed to her battle with lung cancer. She was the mother of two sisters who are like daughters to my mom, having been raised by her when they were born some two to three decades ago. This dear auntie was diagnosed about three years ago and her condition deteriorated over the last week or so. Doctor had advised the family to prepare for the worst and so they were in a way ready for it. But what they were not prepared for was to send her off on a Sunday when people would celebrate Mother’s Day. It only made the farewell so much harder to bear.

Auntie was a simple and humble lady though she held quite a high position in the civil service and had been a Justice of Peace. She had only this one job until she retired a couple of years ago. She married another civil servant who also retired from the one job he had. Their first and only matrimonial home is a simple 4-room HDB flat from the day they bought it and to the day she passed away. And yes, they also relied on public transport. These feats are a rarity these days. Therefore, when she had dutifully served the country and was looking forward to life after retirement, with pension from the state and a granddaughter to love and behold, it just seems so cruel that her life should be cut short in such a manner. And so relatives and friends came over to comfort family members, share of the wonderful memories they had before bidding her a final and tearful farewell.

We know that this is one farewell that none of us can ever hope to evade. A day will come when it will be our turn to go, whether we are ready and prepared or are taken totally unaware. Would people come to bid us farewell and share of the wonderful memories they have of us? Or will the pastor doing the funeral struggle to say something genuinely nice in the presence of others? If he does, I fear what our Lord would say when we see him on the other side of heaven. I guess it all depends on how we live while we still have breath. I believe we know it but sadly, it often takes such farewells to make some sit up and realize the vanity of it all, a chasing after the wind. This is the first of two momentous farewells.

The second one is a totally different affair altogether. After 26 years or so as the manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson has finally hung up his hairdryer! Many were sad that he is retiring while many more were glad that he is quitting. Tributes and accolades poured in from all over but the best one that I’ve come across came from one of our very own, a die-hard fan who could have never imagined that he would be at Old Trafford to witness the manager’s final home game. This was what he posted, “27 years as manager of Manchester United, I never know a day in my life that he wasn’t the manger of United.” So forget about the number of trophies he had won in his entire managerial career. This feat alone is also a rarity these days. Therefore while it is common for managers and players to leave their clubs for the annual musical chair game as the season draws to a close, his farewell to United and retirement from the game is a different ball game altogether. It was momentous!

Well, Pastor Edwin had already shared much about him last Sunday and so I shall not say much here (lest I incur the wrath of the ABU!) except this: I suppose it is also common these days for pastors and worshippers to play the game of musical chair as well, whatever their reasons might be for moving on to another church or another ministry within the church. In footballing term, some may leave because it is time to retire while others may leave because they have been approached to take on bigger tasks. Some leave because they were asked to while others leave just to get out of relegation! So which of these is right for us as players of God’s kingdom? What do you say?

So here are the two momentous farewells for me in this month of May. The first forces me to ask myself again: am I ready to go anytime, anywhere and anyhow? It all depends on how well I live as a witness for God. The second forces me to reflect upon my ministry: will I finish well? It all depends on how well I perform as a servant of the Lord. What about you?

Pastor Ronnie Ang

May 26, 2013