So this is how my church ends. Not with a bang, but with a whisper.
We had our final service this past weekend, Saturday afternoon. It was a commemoration service, going through our entire history as a church, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was quite wonderful, though certainly emotional. I made it all the way through until we had a video slide show right at the end, and I broke. However, I managed to compose myself and lead “In Christ Alone” without cracking. I don’t know how I made it through that song without entirely breaking down but I did. We then closed with “My Friends May You Grow in Grace” and I pretty much cried through the entire song.
I think it finally struck me that it really is over. And the problem for me is that there’s not really much of a resolution. Usually when you have something that has been so important to you for 6 1/2 years, the ending process takes at least 4 to 6 months or something like that. However, this was about 3 weeks. It just ended, and it’s hard to really grieve. I guess it’s kind of like losing a loved one suddenly, or losing one to a prolonged illness. It still hurts either way, but the grieving process is just sped up. I’ve lost the only church I’ve ever called home. That’s not easy to replace.
And to add to that, I had to leave immediately after the service to make it to the play that I’m in in time, so I basically hugged as many people as I could as fast as I could on my way out the door. It was very surreal. However, later that evening, I realized the one thing I hadn’t done yet to give myself any sort of sense of resolution. I had to say goodbye to the space. I’ve mentioned this before, but it was definitely something I had to do. So I drove back to the space around 11pm (I still had keys after all), walked in and said goodbye to the space.
I could remember and picture so many things. The crazy amount of late night Common Shiner rehearsals. All the design team meetings in which I may have made a serious comment once in the full two hours (in other words, all the rest of my comments were jokes). The number of praise team rehearsals that I didn’t feel like leading, but always felt rewarded afterward. All the services I felt completely inadequate to lead. The bible studies on Tuesday nights where one night we simply watched a thunderstorm. All the times I was proud at how cutting edge and cool we were (our pastor said “shit” in a service twice. I was so proud), and all the times I got frustrated by how we would bicker over the silliest things, and I was forced to acknowledge that we were just as susceptible to those things as every church is. However, through it all, I mainly remember just how much the holy spirit moved in that place, and in spite of everything, we were a broken people who could accept each others’ brokenness, and all we wanted to do was make a beautiful noise to God. And that’s all it was ever about.
So where one chapter closes, another begins, and I look forward to what God has written in the next one. But I will always take with me the beauty-despite-brokenness, love-filled, always-compassionate, ever-accepting spirit that accompanied me and my church in the last one.