Entreat Me Not to Leave You
I should begin by saying that this article marks the last edition of this extended Noteworthy context. If you can remember back to January of 2020, I first began this column to serve as an exposition on the text and musical ideas of the upcoming Sunday’s Choral Offering. Of course, it being January of 2020, the column has existed longer in its current context than it has in the form it was originally intended. After this week, this column will return to its original intent and serve as edification for the week’s Offertory music.
Which leads me to today’s topic – endings.
Perhaps a bit dramatic for the rebranding of a column, but I guess I am a bit of a sap for stuff like that. Endings affect me.
I have to confess to being one of the people who tends to mourn a chapter’s end more than I celebrate the new chapter that opens at its closing.
Endings are hard.
I think the hardest part of an ending is how it reminds us of how time is always effortlessly, invisibly, irreversibly moving forward. It is a time when we look backwards at a relationship, an experience, a chapter in any form and realize that all its good and bad will not, cannot be replicated.
Like I said – endings affect me.
But I don’t know if I believe in them anymore.
Or at least, I don’t think that they are as permanent as we feel them to be.
As Christians, the subversion of endings is kinda our thing – or, God’s thing, really. Think of all the intended endings of Christ’s ministry. From His birth – Mary was pregnant with a child that did not belong to Joseph. This should mean the end of their marriage, but a few Behold!’s and an angel or two and that ending was averted. A less profound ending, at his first miracle, the party was over because there was no more wine, and one act of God later, they are serving the good stuff too late in the party! Lazarus, the Cross, Peter’s three denials – the process of redemption looks a lot like the smudging of clearly defined chapters.
Let’s zoom out – Christ dies and rises again. The events and letters of the later New Testament unfold. The Bible is codified. It’s events categorized into chapters and books – all long behind us now.
But….God didn’t end there, did he?
Though we can’t touch the holes in His hands, Christ’s ministry is not over. Though I have not met the Lord in the Holy of Holies, He still reaches me. And though I have not watched as the Spirit descends like a Dove, the good work is still being done.
In the other endings in our life, it is easy to imagine that they are somehow concrete. But if we can believe that the last page of Revelation is not the end of significance for our God, then maybe we can allow ourselves some solace in how we relate to the endings in our own lives.
What if, rather than partitioning our existence in chapters and endings that we determine, we realized that instead, God was always beginning something in us. In every moment, in every relationship, in every circumstance, God is beginning something new in us.
And since He started it, I think I’ll let Him decide the endings, too.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter: 3
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Director of Music
First Presbyterian Church