Sunday was out last service in the old building.
We sang our #1 favorite song, "Lord of the Dance". We had a children's chat reminding us that when we leave our house we are still a family - when we leave the church building we are still the church. Offering was taken and announcements made about dates and times to help pack and move. Scripture was read from Exodus 33: God told the Israelites to go, leave Mount Sinai and go to the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised. I preached about moving and moving on. How this is hard work, heart work and yet it brings peace and joy when we work through that hard stuff. I reminded the congregation that God gave the Israelites the Ark of the Covenant as a sign of God's real presence with them wherever they went as the traveled through the wilderness. We have our own signs as well: the cross, the candle, each other. Wherever we go, God is already there.
Then we had a litany of thanksgiving for all the good things God has done in this building. We sang "Now thank we all our God" and as we sang the verses, people came up and removed items from the front of the church. The altar cloths, the banners, the candle, the Bible and, finally, the large wooden cross. Then the church left the building. And we stood in front on the grass to proclaim the words of de-consecration together. "This building having been consecrated and named Calvary United Methodist Church together with the land on which it stands we now deconsecrate and release for any honorable use. We declare that it is no longer a sanctuary of God" Finally, we held hands and sang "Shalom to You".
After the service ended Kevin said to me, "you have to appreciate the symbolism of the motorcycle guys reving it during the words of de-consecration". One of the dangers of worshipping on Hwy 71 is the traffic noise and some motorcycles had rotten timing Sunday.
It was symbolic -- words we really didn't want to hear, words we really didn't want to say were drowned out by the roar of motorcycles. And I was glad no one could hear my voice because I was choking up in that moment and barely squeaked out half the words.
It is hard saying good-bye. Even when you know that this is the right choice. Even when you know the future God holds has great things because you are saying good-bye. It is still hard. And that is ok. If we don't grieve, then there was no love, caring, or attachment.
Because it hurts, we know that there was love.
Memories of the joys we have shared, the comfort in times of sorrow will be in our hearts. And the memories remind us of God's love and care. I remember so many myself. The Sunday I left the church crying because I found out Kenneth (my stepson) would not be allowed to live with me anymore. The joyful Sunday I baptized my sons, Sampson & Isaac. The Sunday I confirmed my son & daughter, Catherine & Isaac. The Sunday Kenneth joined as an adult member.
This building has been "home" to our spiritual lives. It has been important.
This congregation has a future, a promise of better land "flowing with milk and honey" where God is leading us. We will be at home there, and it will be worth the journey.
Wherever we go, God is already there.
Thanks be to God