This morning was hard, even though we'd seen the day approaching for years.
Today was the day that the band had to say goodbye to Mid-Life Rookie's husband, G&T.
When MLR started the ordination process, we all knew it would eventually take them both away from us. We are United Methodist; preachers move. Because of her appointment to the Conference office, they were able to stay longer than we'd even dared to imagine... but next Sunday, she preaches her first sermon in her own pulpit. It's really happened. She's ordained, and they're moving on. It's a wonderful thing. I'm elated for them, and fiercely proud of her, my dear friend.
Yet it's okay for me to be crying as I type these words. And if it weren't okay, that wouldn't matter; I'd still be letting these tears fall. Our two families' lives have become intertwined over the past decade, and change is hard.
For the band, after denial came acceptance, and after acceptance came planning. Because of that planning by this group of really generous and creative people, we were able to present G&T with four things today: an art-guitar with our signatures on the back, decoupaged on the front with photos of all of us, mixed in with several of his favorite more-famous musicians; a gift card to a store where we know he's spent thousands of dollars on music equipment over the years; our love; and our music.
Wednesday at practice, we put together the anthem G&T chose. It related to the scripture our guest preacher was using, of course. He's good at paying attention to that stuff. And it also happened to be a totally bad-ass song that we do rather well. (Can church be bad-ass? Why yes, yes it can.)
And Thursday night the band convened, minus G&T, for a super-secret rehearsal to prepare our farewell song to him, which we played in place of our usual benediction response.
by Bill Mallonee and Julie Miller
May your peace be an anchor in stormy times;
May your hope run like a river that'll never run dry;
May your burdens grow light, may your worries subside:
This is our prayer for you.
May your soul grow deep; may your joy run wild;
May your heart know the face of Mercy has smiled;
May your faith come to let you believe like a child:
This is our prayer for you.
We divided the lyrics line by line between the two of us girls -- otherwise, we probably couldn't have gotten through it without crying. It wasn't my best vocal work, but I did sing every note and word I was supposed to sing, and I even managed to look at MLR and G&T for part of it.
Lots of other important and good things happened today: our annual conference lay member gave her report to the congregation; our Conference Lay Leader, a good friend of mine and an excellent preacher, delivered the (also bad-ass) message so our pastor could leave with the youth after the first service; and the youth, with The Alpha and our pastor among their leaders, left for their week-long mission trip.
I came in from the parking lot just before the mission trip vans left. It was time to robe up and sing in the choir for second service. It wasn't until the end of the service that I got teary-eyed again. Because here's what I finally noticed when we stood to sing the closing hymn:
You may not be able to tell what it is. The table is our church's altar, seen from the rear, where the band sets up and the choir is seated. In this photo you can see part of the green altar cloth, the open Bible, one of the candles, the foot of the wrought-iron cross...
...and a guitar pick.
After the first service, G&T left it upon the altar as an offering.
(It only hit me in the car afterward that of course, it was the appropriate liturgical color, too. This man has Jerry Garcia ties in all the colors of the church year. He is totally ready to be a "preacher's wife.")
Thank you, G&T, for your offering. For all the years of dedication, the outpouring of your giftedness in service to God in this place. We love you.