A “Goodbye” letter from Pastor Karen
“Goodbye” What does it mean when we say “Goodbye” to someone? According to the online etymology dictionary, the term that we commonly use every day when parting from each other has a much longer history and a deeper meaning than we typically realize.
In the 1500’s the whole phrase that was commonly used when religious people parted from each other was “God be with ye.” It was a phrase that invoked to the hearer to recognize that they would not be alone, that God was with them no matter where they would travel. — It also was a reminder to be courageous, an acknowledgment that while their beloved friend was no longer standing or walking next to them, that God still was there. –The phrase also served as a connection between believers. Both people being able to take comfort in the fact that even though they were physically apart, they both were still connected together by their shared belief in God, and thus they could have peace in the fact that both of them were still with God and were walking with God wherever their feet would carry them. And that ultimately they would see and be with each other in eternity some day.
Over time, this longer departure phrase of “God be with ye” was contracted down to shorter versions. It became, “God be wy ye”, “Godbwye”, and then “God b’ye” and then finally “God bye”.
While this was going on, people that were not particularly religious would use a formal phrase to signal their departure by saying some variation on the phrase, “Good day”. The last part of the phrase was entirely dependent on the time of day that it actually was. Thus over the course of a day, people would hear departure phrases of , “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” and “Good Evening.” You can still hear this phrase when you read some classic literature. A formal character would say upon leaving, “I bid you Good Day” if the sun was up, and “Good Night” once it was dark.
At some point, the two phrases of “God bye” And “Good ___” got put together, and “God bye” became “Good bye”. Today, we have gotten even more casual and it is common for the word “Good” to be completely dropped off, leaving us with only the short and very informal, “Bye.”
As I am leaving First Presbyterian of Allegan, I am not going to leave with a simple casual, “Bye”; or even a “Good bye.” I am not going to bid you a “Good day” or even a “Good Night”. I am going back to the original phrase, “God be with you”. (Substituting the modern “you” for “ye”. It is this wish and hope that I leave with you. I want you remember that God is with you. No matter what happens to you, no matter what First Presbyterian chooses to do or what pastor you choose to call next, you are absolutely without any doubt not alone. We share our love for God and neighbor and love for each other, and there is nothing that can break or diminish that love ever. –And there is nothing that can remove either of us from the presence of God. God is with both of us, watching over us and caring for us. It doesn’t matter if you are in Allegan and I am Grandville, God is with us. It doesn’t even matter if you believe it or acknowledge it or not. –God is still with you. And God will stay with both of us forever.
May God bless you and keep you, may God’s face shine down with love upon you and may God grant to you and the whole world, God’s peace. Amen.
God Be With You