At the Reunion, Jennie sang a song, "How Can I Say Goodbye," which you can view on YouTube, just be prepared to cry. It joins "One Big Time in the Kingdom" as a celebration of the incredible relationships God grants us as we meet one another, celebrate together, become friends, learn to love and, sometimes, hurt one another. The grace of God becomes so real when one person is able to forgive another. Grace is also evident as we learn how to say goodbye to one another. The Reunion, the recording, and the preparation caused many of us to renew dormant friendships. It was exciting to watch people who had not seen one another in many years hugging, talking in animated conversation and sharing email information.
At the Jesus House we perpetually said goodbye to people. It was, by design, a transitional ministry. Our purpose was primarily to help a person become a Christian and start on the road to growth before connecting with a church. It's true that some people came around the House for years but those were exceptions.
Some came during high school years, others during college and still others as they embarked on young adult years. It was hard to see people move on to involvement in churches and stop showing up as often, but we never intended to be anyone's church. Around 1980, I briefly considered starting a new church out of the House but did not have a strong enough vision to begin the process.
Anytime we say goodbye, there is an experience of grief, which I think is the strangest of all emotions, or perhaps I should say, collection of emotions. Jennie's song perfectly captures the mix of emotions experienced when saying goodbye to a dear friend. It is a combination of sorrow over the loss of the friend, joy for the new experiences the friend will have, and deep aching that points us to regret over missed opportunities that cannot be recaptured.
When we closed the Jesus House, it was a decision Rick Mapes and I made. Initially we thought it would close, but re-open with a new, younger staff, and a renewed ministry to high school students. The Jesus House Board voted to confirm out decision to close, but not re-open. The unfortunate part of our decision is we did not allow people time to grieve and prepare for the closing. I've apologized to some of you individually over the years but now I'll apologize to all of you. The decision was the right one, but the method of saying good bye was not good. I sang the last night we were open, then announced our closing. I'm sorry we never had a farewell celebration. These reunions have been good for many reasons and one of them is it has allowed us to have that farewell celebration.
The closing of the Jesus House shows that sometimes, even good things end.
This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the First Two Weeks of May
The First Week of May
1972 - Randy Matthews (Our founder returned for the first anniversary)
1973 - No artists listed for the month of May, 1973. I don't think I was on vacation.
1974 - Marc O'Hara
1975 - Donnie Yazell
1976 - Diakonoi, Andy Danzl
1977 - Ken Atkinson (The day after Terry Fisher finally graduated from CBS after six long years!)
1978 - Mark Ryman
1979 - Another blank date???
1980 - Cathy Snyder
1981 - adamsfishyodor (Our tenth anniversary!)
1982 - Brethern
1983 - Linda McCay
The Second Week of May
1972 - Grant Hammond (Our Second Director returned as a continuation of our first anniversary celebration)
1973 - The Blank Month
1974 - Terri & Ric
1975 - Deny & Holly Brigance
1976 - Paul & Dave
1977 - Andy Danzl
1978 - Steve & Kevin - Puppets!
1979 - Rod Ellis with Ann & Sandy
1980 - Deny Brigance
1981 - Randy Matthews (Continuation of our Tenth Anniversary Celebration)
1982 - Revelation
1983 - Love Reaching