At the end of the service today, after the closing hymn but just before we passed the peace (our practice just before the Benediction each week), the leaders of Small Church came forward to say a few words and to present me with this beautiful image of the sanctuary, created from fabric scraps used in a series of banners over the past two years. I wish you could see its full, three-dimensional beauty. The circle over the altar is a beautiful stained glass window portraying the young Jesus. The little squares of blue on the pews in the foreground are the new hymnals dedicated just a few months ago.
The goodbye was sweet. The Conference staff person who met with the church council this past week affirmed our years together and spoke with great and convincing hope of their future. I suppose a person could say a few things about the burden on smaller churches to meet the standard for paying benefits and wonder why such a progressive denomination couldn’t be a little more cooperative in making it possible for smaller churches to afford fulltime pastoral coverage.
But today we truly shared a love feast as people came forward for Communion, each of us called by name, just as Jesus in the gospel lesson this morning. They are surely God’s Beloved Sons and Daughters, those wonderful people at Small Church. I give thanks for the time we had together and pray that God will bless them on the way.
(You can find my parting words here.)