God be with you till we meet again; by good counsels guide, uphold you, with a shepherd’s care enfold you; God be with you till we meet again.
– God Be with You Till We Meet Again, ELW Hymn #536
When I was growing up, my home congregation ended every worship service by singing the first verse of this hymn. It was immediately after the sending hymn ended and before anyone even thought to move from their pew. As kids we called it “the goodbye song.”
But the message of the song is not goodbye. It is a beautiful blessing from each person to another and a hope to be together again soon. The lyrics are words that celebrate God’s constant guidance and presence in our lives and the pull we feel to come back together. It is a way we give thanks for our separate journeys that lead us together again.
These are the words that are in my mind now as I prepare to take my sabbatical. It is not a goodbye but a see you later moment. It is a time when these words of my childhood continue to play in my heart as I get ready to take a brief step back from my work here but as I continue to pray for you all through these weeks ahead.
I remain, as always, grateful for this place and all of you as we share in this ministry together. And I look forward to coming back this fall, excited and renewed for where God continues to call us!
Until then, God be with you till we meet again,
Pastor Alina Gayeuski
P.S. See my full message in the March newsletter for all the details and frequently asked questions about my sabbatical. I will be starting my sabbatical on Memorial Day and will return the Tuesday after Labor Day.