I didn't know what VSP was till a few weeks ago. And I have some strong feelings about it. VSP stands for Voluntary Separation Package. It was offered to 12 of my colleagues and friends at Christian Theological Seminary where I spent 15 years working before retirement. Today six of the twelve accepted the package.

Tonight I am grateful for the lives of those who will be leaving CTS. Each one has given of themselves to nurture future leaders for the church. Each has studied, written and taught in their field to help assure that future leadership in the church is educated and grounded in the rich and complex tradition of our faith. They have given their lives to help others explore the depths of faith that has been expressed throughout history.

Tonight I am remembering each one as they made decisions about their future.  Holly Heron has taught New Testament and I am grateful for her sharing with me her insights as we taught classes together. Ron Summervile taught Church History and was the leader of a life changing journey I took to Ghana soon after I came to CTS.  Frank Burch Brown has taught Religion and the Arts and has blessed me with deep conversations about God in the midst of loss and pain. Marti Steussy has taught Old Testament and I have been enriched by our friendship and blessed by working with her in teaching Licensed Ministers. Rufus Burrow has taught Ethics and has challenged me to be my best self.  Wilma Bailey has taught Old Testament and her quiet and steady presence has grounded me in my life at the school.

Each of these persons is experiencing profound loss tonight. I cannot know what it means for them. But, I know its meaning for me will be revealed only as time goes forward. As I wait for the future to open up and reveal their new life and mine in their absence, I can only say, "Thank you, dear friends and colleagues for the gifts you offered me and so many others."