“I’ve heard it said that people come 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.
Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you I have been changed for good.”
—–From Changed for Good from Wicked
That was the song sung during today’s goodbye celebration for Steve and Jane Strane and their daughter Susan as Steven retired as Rector at St. Timothy’s after 22 years. We should have bought shares in Kleenex because there was not a dry eye in the house. But for all this raw display of emotion there was a feeling of love and joy.
The story of the call process that brought a 38 year old guy who had never been a rector and had been a priest-in-charge for only a year and one-half turned out pretty well. It was testimony to a good selection process that involved the congregation to live into their aspirations for the parish and match those needs to candidates who shared that faith journey. And it continued to work well for 22 years. Steven told the crowd he had not imagined spending so much time in one place but he always felt there was more to do here and each day was a new adventure.
So now we start anew looking for a new person to come into our lives for a reason. We too are led to those who can help us most to grow—if we let them and we help them in return. That was the secret sauce wasn’t it—we needed someone to help us grow as a parish. And we had the good sense to let Steven help us, to trust him and love him and accept him as our own—and in turn Steven turned into a parish priest respected by all, loved by all, held up by all because we knew him we have been changed for good.