On Monday my congregation and I held an "exit interview" to reflect carefully, tenderly and honestly upon the past 11 years of shared ministry. My written commentary closed with these words: "I love the people and commitments we have made together over the past 10+ years. I am deeply grateful to Carlton, Becky and David as creative and compassionate colleagues. I have an abiding gratitude to Lauryn who stepped into leadership at a demanding time in her life and the life of the congregation. I value what each Council Member brings to the table and pray that they will share their light more boldly in the days to come. I give thanks to God to those who have wrestled with the financial challenges of First Church. I have rarely agreed with your process, but affirm most your calling to be faithful stewards. I have been blessed one hundred fold by the various incarnations of Between the Banks and loved sharing music on a weekly basis – including choir practice – with my colleagues in choir. Being a part of the birth, life and death of so many faithful people has changed my heart and helped me mature in my own faith. I am so thankful for my sabbatical: while it led me to realize that God had called me out of local church ministry just as certainly as I was called into it in 1968 into ministry, the entire experience was a revelation for Dianne and me. I give thanks to Di and our family for their patience when the demands of the church took precedence over their loving lives. Thank you." It was a moving and Spirit-filled gathering and I am glad the way the participation
turned out. God is good.
Then I started rehearsals for this Sunday's worship and "mini-salon" with old friend and new musical collaborator Hal. Since last October I have wanted to do a music and conversation event with him and now, just two weeks before I leave ministry, it is coming to pass. We are working on three beautiful and insightful songs for worship. Afterwards, we will reprise these tunes, invite conversation about music, truth-telling and beauty in this broken culture and do more songs. Two additional musical colleagues, Jon and Winn on percussion and flute, will join the mix. It is rumored, too that an other old friend - and member of my high school band - could be present. Stay tuned!
I have been furiously cleaning the house today in anticipation of the arrival of the Brooklyn fam. Tomorrow, Saturday, the congregation is throwing me a retirement party and my daughters and their loved ones will be present. It, too, will be wrought with emotions. And then on Monday (after Sunday's concert) we slip outta Dodge for ten days in sunny ol' Tucson. There will be a little get away to Bisbee worked into the the chill time along with the world's best Mexican food, dear and precious friends and a music scene that can't be beat. When we return, two days later is my farewell Sunday. And joy upon joy, I will celebrate both Eucharist and baptism that day before taking vows of release.
If I am not on-line much until February, reread the notes above and know that I will be trying to take it all of this in. February 2018 will be my DO NOTHING month (except a trip to Ottawa and L'Arche.) I want to mostly be still and listen, rest and be prayerful about what is now unfolding in this crazy thing called life.