I don't know if this is the appropriate setting for these thoughts, but I feel the need to get them out. I might delete this later, but I just wanted to type a bit.
Yesterday was my last day as the Senior Pastor of Ithaca Baptist Church. I don't want to be one of those people who expects to be coddled and cared for, but I was surprised by the farewell we received. There was nothing planned officially by the deacon or deaconess boards beyond the fifth Sunday like meal in the afternoon.
The morning service was fine but flat. I had picked all songs I like to sing for the worship time, which was nice. But several of our closest friends decided not to come to the service because they told us it would be too hard for them. I understand their sentiment, but that hurt a little bit. I tried to explain why to Vanessa. For nearly five years at Ithaca, I have said as a mantra, "It's not about me." Part of me just thought that yesterday was actually about me and that people who really cared about me would come to support and encourage me, putting their own feelings aside for me. I was disappointed that I was wrong about this.
I preached as normal and then had to ask one of the deacons to pray because I thought it inappropriate to give directions and such for a dinner in our honor. We did have a potluck dinner, but it was like every other run of the mill potluck we've ever had at IBC. There was no service or farewell statement at all. There was no goodbye gift or prayer, no chance to say any final words of thanks to the church or to explain what we will be doing in Arkansas. People just came up to us and said good bye when they were ready to go, but many didn't even do that. The deacons decided to have an impromptu meeting, I assume about our student ministries pastor's status after we leave. It was like we were bystanders and intruders at our own party. Throughout our time here in Ithaca, we have had a few families leave the church to move to another area. All of them had nicer farewell times than we did.
I know the right answers, the spiritual responses. And I will force myself to have them eventually. But today, I just feel sad. I gave a lot to IBC over the past four years, and while many have seen and appreciated that, yesterday just didn't do justice to what we have all witnessed God do during our time here. Certainly there were some who gave us cards and gifts and spoke kind words to us, but the lack of anything "official" was indicative. I fear that it is an indication of the storm clouds on the horizon. And that makes me feel a bit like a failure and a lot sad.
OK - all that said, I will see how I feel. Something tells me I won't let this post stay up very long.