Rev. Brownmiller says “Goodbye and God bless” to Barriere congregation

Reverend preparing to depart the North Thompson for a new parish in New Westminster, B.C.

Rev. Graham Brownmiller

Rev. Graham Brownmiller

By Reverend Graham Brownmiller

One of my favourite musicals is “Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” and it chronicles the life and times of those characters that we so briefly meet in the classic “Wizard of Oz.”

In this musical there is a duet between Elphaba, that one whom we typically regard as ‘Wicked’, and Glinda, that one whom is typically seen as ‘Good’. They have known each other for many years for much of their lives – and at a crucial part of the story, they find themselves together. And when they find themselves together, they sing the song “For Good” which speaks to me in many ways.

The song contains these words: “I’ve heard it said / That people comes into our lives for a reason / Bringing something we must learn / And we are led / To those who help us most to grow / If we let them / And we help them in return / Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true / But I know I’m who I am today / Because I knew you”

As I write this I am preparing for my departure from the North Thompson; when you read it, I will probably be on the road. I am in a bit of emotional turmoil as I prepare to leave, as I am excited about the future, and at the same time, grieving the leaving of this place that has become home over the past three years.

As the song above speaks to me, I know that I have been learning from the amazing people of the North Thompson Pastoral Charge (the Church of St Paul (Barriere) and Clearwater United Church) and also many others in these communities. Our lives were brought together for learning and for fun and frivolity, for joyful moments and moments of grief and sadness; we experienced and shared in grace and the love of God. As I leave, I know that I leave a better person for having had the experience and encounter of each person here.

“For Good” continues: “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? / But because I knew you / I have been changed for good … So much of me / Is made from what I learned from you / You’ll be with me / Like a handprint on my heart”

As a Christian pastor, and I have preached this message, I find many parallels between this song and the Christian story: the disciples, so moved by the teachings of their Rabbi Jesus, continue the story beyond his life. We disciples, even today, are so moved by the teachings of Jesus, that we continue to tell that story here and now.

I have been so moved and touched by the stories of the Christ lived out by these disciples in this place, in this time, that I can do nothing but tell the story and celebrate that the presence of Jesus the Christ is alive and well in the world and in these churches – small as they might be. I can do nothing but tell the story and celebrate the joy and sorrow that has been experienced here.

I can do nothing but say thanks for the wise counsel and the steadfast faith that I have received and witnessed in this valley.

For all the words there are, all I need are these: thank you and God bless each and every one of you.