|Dreams Beginning And Ending by Kent Whitaker|
This Sunday is my last at RCLPC. I have loved this church for six years, and will continue to love it from afar. But you know what? That's a weird weird feeling.
They do not tell you in seminary how hard it is to leave a church. Or how bizarre it feels to leave one church for another one. The search process feels like I imagine having an affair must feel. And the leaving process feels a bit like abandoning a family. I know pastors do this all the time, and maybe I'm a tad bit dramatic, but seriously...it's weird.
I keep getting asked if I'm excited about the next thing--I'm going to be a Head of Staff, there are lots of incredible things about the new church I'll be joining in ministry, and to top it off I don't have to move! Yes, I'm intellectually excited about those things. But honestly? First I'm sad. I can't be excited just yet, because I have lots of feelings about leaving RCLPC. I'm disappointed about some things, sad about some things, and I'll miss those people with whom I've shared life for six years. A lot has happened in our lives together during that time--ups and downs, joys and sorrows, anger and excitement. I can't just gloss over all of that and skip to the excitement. Excitement will come, yes, but not until I get through some grief first. There are things I wanted to do here, things I wanted to be a part of, lives I wanted to share, stories I wanted to hear--and I won't. Yes, there will be new stories, new ministries, new lives, new things to do, but those don't negate the sadness.
And in the midst of this, it's Advent. It is extremely weird to have my last day be smack in the middle of Advent. And yet it seems somehow appropriate--that we look both back and forward, that there is both darkness and coming light. There is an unexpected and unknown new thing coming, and that is exciting. But every new thing means the end of an old thing (especially in the Advent story--the coming of a baby is decidedly the end of the previous way of life!), and that's true in this story too. And so beginnings and endings, joy and grief, excitement and fear and anticipation and loss and hope and uncertainty and light and darkness all mingle together.
That's pretty much the definition of Advent. So I suppose it's not that weird to be leaving now after all.
(though the fact that I'm going on a Christmas vacation--a pastor on vacation at Christmas!--is still extremely weird.)