In the Book of Common Prayer, Collect 57, “For Guidance,” asks “that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name.” I am intrigued especially by the challenge to “end our works in God.” That phrase raises the possibility of faithful and graceful endings.
There are programs that have lived past their usefulness, ideas whose time have come and gone, and practices which serve goals we no longer have.
There are times to stop and to quit—times when doing more actually does harm.
We all know that, even when we’ve tried to bring healing and reconciliation to broken relationships, it’s sometimes that, while we pray God’s love and life’s best for them, there are people with whom we cannot sustain a friendship.
In his book, The Dip, Seth Godin offers this wise advice:
Quit the wrong stuff.
Stick with the right stuff.
Have the guts to do one or the other (p. 16)
Sometimes, we need the courage to bring something to an end or the humility to acknowledge that it has already ended.
How might do we make our endings “in God”?
When a practice, program, or idea has served us well, but no longer does, we end with gratitude and we embrace what lies ahead with anticipation.
When something ends, in sum or in part, because of failure on our part, we confess our sins, admit our mistakes, and ask that our failures become our teachers. When that “something” is a relationship, we pray for the mercy to forgive and the vulnerability to seek forgiveness, even though reconciliation is not now possible.
“I am,” Jesus said, “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” We pray and live our endings, like our beginnings, in his name and spirit.