A Fond Farewell
During a traditional military Hail and Farewell those being hailed are normally recognized but not given an opportunity to speak, whereas those who are leaving are often asked if they have anything to say. The same pattern is true for change of command ceremonies. Protocol offers the outgoing commander more freedom with the length of remarks, but the incoming commander is limited to a few succinct comments. Farewell remarks about shared events and actions can be emotional and heartfelt. An organization develops a special bond through both good times and difficult periods together.
In the verses immediately preceding today’s reading (Acts 20:17–35), the apostle Paul bids farewell to a group of people for whom he cared deeply. He recounted the times of great success and recalled the events that brought tears. He assured them that the Spirit of God motivated all he did for them for their good. He expressed concern for their future and cautioned them to continue to faithfully follow the Lord. He shared with them what he believed to be the challenges awaiting him and asked for their prayers.
The farewell ended with tears, hugs, kisses, and prayers. An uninformed observer would have easily surmised that the people cared deeply about one another.
When we think about issues pertaining to a PCS, our thoughts focus mainly on the hail and not the eventual farewell. Here is a challenge: start mentally writing your farewell speech the day you arrive. By this, I mean be intentional about making a difference in people’s lives. Along with your plans of where to go on leave and what to see and do over long weekends, look early on to determine whom you can encourage, where in the community you can help, and what role you can play in church or chapel.
If we approach a new assignment with the attitude of Paul—to serve others and follow the leading of God’s Spirit, then our farewell memories will already be written in the hearts of those we come to know.