Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
Recently I had heard a lot of speculation about a reunion of the actors from the TV sitcom ‘Friends.’ Running for 10 seasons, this was one of the most highly watched TV shows of all time with the final episode back in 2004 having an audience of 52 million people. When you consider the AFL Grand Final is the largest viewing audience in Australia with about 3 million viewers, you can see why there is a lot of anticipation about a reunion of the actors from ‘Friends.’
Interestingly at 52 million viewers, ‘Friends’ is only 4th on the all-time largest viewing audience for a final episode of a TV series. You may be tempted the think that a more recent series like the highly anticipated final episode ‘Game of Thrones’ would now hold the record. Well I can tell you that ‘Game of Thrones’ final episode had approximately 19 million viewers; less than half of ‘Friends.’ I suspect that while it may have had 19 million viewers, there were at least 30 million people who didn’t like the ending!
Yet what I find very interesting is that all of the most recent TV series do not have very large audiences for the final episodes compared to those of the past. ‘Big Bang Theory’ was more like a ‘tiny pop’ with only 13 million viewers after 12 successful seasons.
So with ‘Friends’ in 4th position with 52 million viewers dwarfing all contenders of recent times, what are the top 3 shows for the largest final episode viewing audience? I am so glad you asked that question, drum roll please…
At number 3, in 1998 is ‘Seinfeld’ with 76 million viewers.
At number 2, in 1993 is ‘Cheers’ with 85 million viewers.
And at number 1, all the way back in 1983, with 106 million viewers is… M*A*S*H. Which amazingly is still being replayed on our screens at this time.
I can remember as a teenager watching the final episode of M*A*S*H with tears running down my cheeks. This was a TV show I had grown up on. It was a show I watched every night. Even now when I hear the title music playing it takes me back to my childhood. And the title of this final episode was ‘Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.’
Can I say that all that I have written thus far is a long, and somewhat self-indulging, introduction to my parting reflection. As I conclude my ministry amongst you and service to you, I have three things to say; ‘Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.’
‘Goodbye’ in the sense that this is the final time I will no doubt see some of you this side of our Lord’s return. Numerous times I have had the experience in my ministry life of saying goodbye to parishes and individuals. It is never easy to say goodbye. The apostle Paul had a similar experience in saying goodbye to the Ephesians (Acts 20). At the end of that passage it says, ‘When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him’ (Acts 20:36-37). Yet the hope that we all have in Jesus is the resurrection and gathering again at the wedding feast of the Lamb. This segues into what I would like to say in relation to ‘Farewell.’
‘Farewell’ in the sense that I pray you will fare well in all that the Lord has ordained for you. The origin of this term, most likely back to the 1400s, is an ‘acknowledgment or expression of goodwill at parting.’ Biblical examples of such expressions of goodwill that God has for us include;
‘He (God) guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake…. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ (Psalm 23)
‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ (Psalm 139)
‘I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)
As you can see, there are numerous and very rich examples of God’s good will for us. All these things and more I pray you will know. My prayer is that you will indeed fare well in God’s blessing. Which then segues nicely into the final word ‘Amen.’
‘Amen’ in the sense that it has always been my honour and great joy to be able to speak blessing over people. On behalf of Karen and myself, thank you all for your love, support and encouragement, and for the final time let me speak these words over you.
May our gracious Lord grant you strength to run the race with perseverance.
May He lift up His countenance and may His
face shine upon you.
May He grant you peace and peace beyond all understanding.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be on you and remain with you always.
Goodbye, Farewell, Amen!