Martin Copenhaver: Good-Bye


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." - John 14:27

One of the reasons parting is so difficult is that, in parting, we confront our limits. We cannot be both here and there. We cannot be with all the people we care about. We cannot lay hold of what is ahead without in some way letting go of what is past.  

So over and over again in scripture we read of people who, in parting, remind one another of the promises of God. And what other way are we to part, in what other way can we? How else can we leave those we care about, unless we entrust them to the care of God?  

That is, after all, what the word good-bye means-"God be with you." What else can we say in parting that does not simply whither and fall at our feet as soon as it is said?  

God be with you, because I can no longer be with you.  

God be with you, because though now we will have limited ways of expressing care for one another, we are still-all of us-in need of care.  

God be with you, because if God is with you and with me, somehow still we will be together.  

God be with you, because though none of our lives is much more than a collection of fragments, some of them with jagged edges, God promises to make them complete and make us whole, in God's time.  

Indeed, there may be no way to part from those we love without either kidding ourselves or being drawn into the shadow of despair-unless we say, "Good-bye." 


God be with those who are dear to me and hold them close while we are absent one from another.

From the UCC Still Speaking Devotionals. Visit