Sunday, March 01, 2009

It Seems Strange, These Last Things


Yes indeed, it feels very strange, these last few days with my congregation of ten years. It would feel sad, but much less strange if I knew what, if anything, is coming next for me.

In the entry is a display that includes a carving of Jesus' head with a crown of thorns, dry palm branches, huge nails and a real crown of thorns.

In the sanctuary the drapery on the windows has been changed to include purple. There are dark purple candles on an altar table....and so on. Our sanctuary cross is draped with purple.

This is all quite as usual. What feels strange is that I will not be there for my favorite Sunday of the year--Easter--when the sanctuary is full of fragrant lilies and the purple drape and crown of thorns are replaced with a gleaming white drape and a golden crown.

This is my daughter, Kris, and me as we are singing a duet together this morning. "He is Jehovah"--the song is a family favorite and has a Jewish flair.

And what an honor and joy to dedicate a brand-new baby boy to God. Here I am with his grandmother, mother, and the three godparents. I know many of my cyber friends are from church traditions that baptize babies, so if you have not seen a baby dedicated, allow me to explain. We are of the branch of the Church tree that practices what is commonly called "believer's baptism" meaning that we baptize individuals (they can be children, teens, or adults) when they make a personal statement of faith. Like those of you who baptize little ones, we do value covenant relationship with one another and God, and we take this time to ask God's blessing and care for the baby and the family.

During a baby dedication the godparents, the parent(s) and the church make promises to God, and we welcome the little one to the congregation.

Some day, I hope, someone will baptize this little person after he has made known his intent to follow Christ.

I love this picture. I am praying for the baby as I anoint his head with oil, making a small sign of the cross. His mother is a teenager and has a tough time ahead, but the church already loves this little guy, and his mommy too. He is a beautiful baby, and so mellow. Oh, not today--the little stinker bellowed throughout the ceremony, except for right as I was ready to pray for him. I usually hold the baby at this point, but I let well enough alone.. After church I saw him in the entry. He was his usual placid little self.

One of the first tasks I had when I arrived at this parish was sitting at the hospital with the family of this young mom (she was eight years old and was not part of our church at that time) as they kept a vigil with their husband, step dad, and grandpa. I was soon to bury him. And now, ten years later, one of my last pastoral acts was to offer this beautiful little one back to God. That is so fitting, isn't it?

Thank you, Lord God.

One more Sunday. This week I am packing my office. And looking for a job of some sort. Many of you have asked me why that is the case. If I can, I'll explain somewhat in a future post.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where do you plan on attending church after March 8th? Are you going to stay at Jubilee? :) :( :|
Maureen

Singing Owl said...

Not going to stay at Jubilee. No way! That would be too hard, for them and for me. Where are we going? Probably where we attended before I started pastoring at Jubilee. We shall see. We really do not know yet.

Prisca@Peace said...

My heart goes out to you. Been there and done that too many times as pastor's spouse and pastor. But grace is with you as you gracefully model relinquishing leadership. If you are ever on this side of the lake (menasha/oshkosh) e-mail me. I'd love to meet you in person.

Nancy

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Yes, it does seem that if you are to be considerate to the new pastor, you can't worship there. Our church is healthy, but there are people who still harken back to the pastor that left in about 1979.

Sophia said...

It sounds like a beautiful service, and a special way to spend some of your last moments with the community you have shepherded so faithfully. And how absolutely cool to anoint at a dedication--is that usual or is that because you are on the liturgical side for AG (I'm guessing, at least, since you mentioned all the purple as well!)?

Praying for you as you take those last steps this week and seek the road ahead.

cheesehead said...

Sure hope you can come visit me after you are finished at Jubilee.


((((((So)))))))

Singing Owl said...

Nancy, I will email you soon. :-)
PS, I'm sorry it just never worked for you to join us at church. I do hope that we can at least have lunch one of these days. (1979? Oh my!) Sophia, in the churches I attended before Jubilee anointing with oil at a dedication was not unusual, but I don't think it is necessarily always done. As for being slightly on the liturgical for AG, heh heh, yes I think that is so, and might be more so if I could get away with it. Who knows what is coming? I never have fit anywhere very neatly...don't understand it. And CheeseHead, I am planning on it. Not sure which week, so let me know if one week is better than another, but I intend to come your way.

Patsy said...

You and your daughter look alike.

truth said...

Wow, those are awesome photos and what a neat story! And I had no idea you sang. What a strange place you are in right now. Praying for you.

And I never thought about how it would feel to stay at the same church where you have stepped down. That would be strange I suppose. But gosh, how hard to leave your home of 8 years.

Singing Owl said...

Ten, actually. :-) That is a long time in today's world. I have watched little kids grow into teenagers and teenagers grow into young adults. I've watched dear friends change as they age (and they have watched us and said the same, no doubt).

Yes, it will be hard. Since I don't have family around (till now, of course, when Kris and Co. moved to Wisconsin) my church is

1. My job
2. My primary ministry
3. My friends (no, it is not exactly like friends outside ones' church, but friends nonetheless)
4. My church home

I can't tell you what a tremendous blessing it has been to have little Trinity and her mommy and daddy as part of our lives. A beautiful and bright thing in a year of mostly sorrow.

It will be very strange not to be part of Jubilee anymore. It will take me a while, I am sure, to adjust.

I'm a SingingOwl. LOL!

I love to sing, though I don't do it enough to sound like I used to. I don't have a beautiful voice, but good enough, if you know what I mean. Kris and I sound good together because our singing voices are alike.

Crimson Rambler said...

carrying you around in my heart in this not-yet-certain time!

Sally said...

((((Singing Owl))))

adventuresinmercy said...

What!!!! NO!!!!!!!

Big huge (((hugs))) to you. The pictures were beautiful.

Molly

Singing Owl said...

Molly, I've prayed for you since your blog went "poof." I hope you are okay.

Thank you for the big hug. Here is one for you.
(((((((((((((MOLLY))))))))))))))

Heh heh.

Ruth said...

The "lasts" are difficult. I just went through them the last couple of months as I moved from where I've lived for 20 years to an entirely new area. But the new is so much better than the old that I know this was the right move for me to make. I'm sure you'll find your move will take you on to other things that are heart-filling as well.

((((( hugs )))))

Singing Owl said...

I hope and pray so, Ruth. I wish I could just totally believe that...but, alas, I don't. We shall see.

And I am so glad that life looks good for you, my friend! It is about time!

Rev Kim said...

SO, I just wanted to thank you for your advice on the ATM question, and the reminder that being a pastor is not a job, it a 24/7 vocation. This has been a struggle for me lately as I've tried to juggle many different demands on my time and lamented my "old" life where the weekend began Friday evening and I had two days off in a row. I needed to hear this today.

much2ponder said...

Both ends of the spectrum...my prayers are with you my friend. I love you!

Rev Dr Mom said...

Saying goodbye and moving on is hard. Prayers for you as you discern where God is calling you to be next.

seethroughfaith said...

blessings owl

God's got it in hand!