Monday, 14 April 2008

“Announcing your plans is a great way to hear God laugh”.

Well after weeks of my build up to leaving my parish yesterday it finally happened.
It was one of those times where the saying came true of “Announcing your plans is a great way to hear God laugh”.

I told myself, that I would not cry, I prayed that I would have courage, be graceful and composed and indeed for a few seconds I really was. Yet each moment through the service I was aware was my last as a part of this community. Being Lay Minister I told myself I should be all those things I prayed for and my priest just told me to be honest. So when it got to the Eucharist I knew all prayers would not be answered.

At our church when we take Eucharist everyone comes and stands around the table in a large circle and we all stand together until everyone has partaken. It is a way of taking Eucharist I find immensely powerful and stunningly moving. One of the other vicars Jim was presiding so David and I were chalice bearers. I am not sure if this was by design or not as this was also the culmination of David and my time in Spiritual Direction (4 1/2 years weekly is a long time). So I take the chalice and go to the first person and I am washed over by this wave of grief, of mine, of others, of the blood symbolized in the wine I carry, and I just start to cry. Not huge sobs but a steady trickle of tears that wont stop. Each person I go to is a parting and I look at them and see in some too tears, some for leaving, some for their own pain laid open before God. Beside me David (how does he keep so cool) just paces it with me. And as I go around hands start to touch me as I pass, to support me as I go around. And it is done. As we clear the table I hide behind a pillar, and blow my nose once more blessing the maker of waterproof mascara. Then at the end I come forward for the Release and Blessing as written below.

Completion, Release & Blessing
the Parish Priest addresses the Theological Student…

Priest: Megan, you have shared with us in this parish of St Luke,
as fellow pilgrim on the Way, and as Theological Student in the testing of vocation.
What do you now ask of us?

Megan: Release from the community, and from the ministry I have been exercising.

Priest: What do you seek?

Megan: The will and the glory of God.

Priest: How do you seek it?

Megan: Through the completion of my baptism, by following Christ crucified and risen.

the Parish Priest addresses the congregation…

Priest: My friends in Christ, we give thanks to God for the loving service of Megan.
You hear her request;
will you now release her from this service?
All: We will, by God’s grace.

the Priest places a Crucifix in the Student’s hands…

Priest: Megan, see the sign of the Cross; bear this sign always in your hands and on your
heart, as Christ’s body in the world. Amen.

Priest: Let us pray;
Christ our Lover, True Light who enlightens all people:
Shine, we pray,
in the hearts of all who seek after you,
that we may clearly see the way that leads to life eternal,
and may follow it without stumbling;
for you are the Way, O Christ,
as you are the Truth and Life;
and you live and reign for ever.
All : Amen.

Priest: Megan, by the laying on of our hands
we bless you for all that you have been to us,
and for all that will be required of you in the future.
Go with our love and our prayers,
and may all things belonging to the Spirit live and grow in you.

Go with our thanks,
with our forgiveness,
and the love we express by the touch of our hands.
The blessing of God be with you always.
All: Amen.

The irony of course is in that moment feeling the hands of my community touching me, praying over me, wiping my eyes like a child, holding me (the rebels saying no we wont release her in the service) I finally feel that I really am loved and valued and a part of my community all on the day of goodbye.

The Amen’s are sung (my favourite part of the whole service besides the Eucharist) and I for the first time just listen and hope I can hold this feeling within me as I leave. Next week a new congregation a new beginning.


Anonymous said...


Christopher said...

Good luck Megs. I know I would have been weeping like a loon had I been there.

Crimson Rambler said...

That is such a lovely way to mark the conclusion of a ministry, I confess I plan to pilfer it wholesale...