Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gone, Baby, Gone

So, I'm two days out now. On Saturday, we had a slamming farewell party called "Laura Ruth's Bye-You." We had bbq from Blue Ribbon, and covered-dish dinner (known in the north as pot luck). This dinner was a foretaste of heaven because in heaven, that's how God feeds her people. Everybody brings a dish of their favorite food cooked according to their spiritual gifts. God always provides the banana pudding.

During and after this Bye-You dinner, there was music, skits, presentations, gifts. One committee gave me a block of wood. It's good to be known. I received other fabulous gifts of spirit and material. Just this morning, I cleaned the cheek prints of a thousand multiple hugs off my glasses.

On Sunday, we praised God for our time together. We sang "How Can I Keep From Singing," "Wondrous Love," "Total Praise," "When In Our Music God is Glorified." Musicians played and sang, Molly prayed, we confessed our sins and we were assured. We also received the gift of Myriam and her mom, women from the Holy Bible Baptist Church, the Haitian Church that is our neighbor. Myriam beautifully reminded us that we are not we ourselves only, but that we are intimately connected to our neighbors. Her presence allowed us to be a part of the sum.

One of the gifts I received from the congregation of First Church Somerville was the opportunity to be minister. It's so hard to be a minister without folks to minister with. I'm so grateful.

Other gifts I received were gifts of cash toward a camera, which I bought yesterday. This photo is a result. Love blooms, smells sweet, lily of the valley of gratitude.

I leave for retreat tomorrow morning. My work is to give my former worries and concerns to God, and to remember whose I am.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Leaving One Congregation to Go to Another

So I'm leaving First Church Somerville because I've accepted a call to Hope Central Church, UCC and DOC in Jamaica Plain. I'm leaving a part-time associate pastor position, a contracted two year position as Minister of Outreach and Evangelism to become a Senior Pastor.

I'm going to love my new job. I can already tell this. A colleague told me that I am am going to be like a tree that opens and blossoms, and I believe that. The congregation I'm going to has fabulous work to do - all of it pointing toward God and our toward our spiritual growth.

But for today and tomorrow, my work is to finish leaving people I love in the congregation at First Church Somerville.

In the last weeks, we've done a nice job loving each other, I think. We have been busy with love and tidying things up, handing off bits of work to competent, brilliant, talented skilled people who will do better things than I have done.

We've been feeding each other, these last weeks in their homes and in our restaurants close to the church, close to jobs. I've gained a bunch of happy weight while we've been saying goodbye.

Last night, with the help of two brothers and their mom, we move all my things out of my church office, my Bibles, all the gifts I've received, pictures of babies I've baptized, my stoles, a pot of anointing oil. Ach, the ache of leaving. (I've left the secret messages a boy of the congregation and I have left for each other - the messages are the fortunes on little bits of paper one gets from Chinese cookies.)

Tonight we have a party, a roast (the verb, not the noun - for we have vegans and vegetarians) and a dance. We're going to dance to "Brick House," and Santana's "You've Got to Change Your Evil Ways." My partner is coming with me, earning yet more partner points for being the best partner, ever.

Tomorrow, Molly and I, and my Ministerial Care Committee will lead worship, with a host of musicians, Thom, Joe, Tara, Chris, Gianna, others. We will thank God for the time we've had together and pray for First Church Somerville's spiritual work in the world.

I am going away. Come, Spirit, come.