Monday, August 20, 2007

The Long Goodbye

Sorry for the light blogging. I'm 9 days away from my move to New Jersey, and my calendar is jam packed with lunches and dinners with friends, family, and church folks. On the upside, I don't think I'll have to get my own food from now until I'm settled into New Jersey. I'm being treated to meals left and right, and having a good time spending time with loved ones.

The downside: This goodbye is very hard, and very long. On the 12th I sang a solo in worship - I usually sing a solo once a year for summer special music. I sang, "You are Mine," that beautiful song in The Faith We Sing. I was doing ok until the last verse when I realized people were crying, including my mother, who was there, and that did me in. And I hate crying in front of people.

This Sunday, the 19th, I celebrated three baptisms, the last three I will perform at St. Paul's. What a joy - celebrating baptisms - probably my favorite thing in ministry. I baptized my cousin's child (the picture is of him with my grandmother), and he dropped his pacifier into the baptismal font. My cousin said she'd have to keep it forever, since it is now clearly blessed in holy water. The choir director presented me with a blanket made in my favorite colors, since the choir director will be out of town on my last Sunday.

And all week I'm doing last things - last nursing home service, last meals with other parishioners who will be away this week, last administrative councils (ok - I didn't cry over that one.) My emotions are right under the surface, and honestly, I usually prefer to keep them down a bit farther than that!

At the same time, I head out tomorrow morning to spend a day in Franklin Lakes. Firsts, hellos: moving things into my office. Meetings with members of the staff and leaders of committees. First visit without being helped along in the day by my predecessor, who is now two months into his own new appointment. I'm really excited to be going - starting. I've been imagining what things will be like for months now, and I want to begin, dig in. There's so much hope in a new start, a new beginning, and it's almost like I'm starting a new school year, fresh packs of paper and all.

I've been blessed by thoughtful cards and notes from folks in both Franklin Lakes and Oneida. Folks in Oneida are writing to share memories of our four years together. Franklin Lakes members have been writing to wish me a speedy recovery, and to offer to help me get to know the town, take me to meals, settle me into the parsonage.

I know, oh faithful readers, you are probably tired of hearing about all this transition talk, but of course, this is virtually the only thing on my mind (besides the joy of getting to babysit my nephew this week.) Bear with me a bit longer!

My strategy, and a request for advice: In an effort to actually survive my last Sunday, I can't imagine referring in my sermon to the fact that it's my last Sunday. I think I'll preach just like it was any other Sunday. We're having a potluck following worship, and I think there will be time for goodbyes then. Does that seem sensible? Have you preached a last sermon somewhere? What did you say/do? How did you 'survive'?
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