Moving day minus 12.
Yesterday evening the Circuit Leaving Service was held. It began with a cream tea at about 5:30 pm followed by a 'Songs of Praise' style service at 6:30 pm. (Some of my US friends have asked what a 'cream tea' is. I think that the rough US equivalent would be a sandwich buffet with lots of cakes and, of course, scones!)
The people who were organizing the event were a bit worried about how many people were going to come. Judging from the number of seats left empty at the service, I think we actually had slightly less than the previous Sunday morning when we held a joint worship service with the local Anglican parish. We'd been hoping for sunshine so folk could eat outside, but in the great tradition of the British Midlands, it was steadily showering at 5:30 so we were all inside.
I think it was a good service and, from my point of view, it was encouraging. Each of my four churches had chosen a hymn for me and I chose four of my own. My Superintendent preached on the subject of "Pam is NOT going home" (absolutely true, and thank you!), using the text of Abram leaving his land. Anglican colleagues spoke about the ecumenical work we've done and there was a presentation from the circuit. Finally, there was actually a liturgy of leaving and blessing and sending out.
I was expecting to feel a bit sad after the service but, surprisingly, I didn't. Over the last 3 weeks, I've had a 'last Sunday service' at each of my churches and those were a bit bitter-sweet. I think it's because this one really WAS a genuine good-bye - rather than part of an extended good-bye - that it didn't feel so strange.
I remember a tutor in theology college saying 'liturgy is performative'. This is a concept that we in the Protestant low-church tradition often like to scorn. But I think this leaving service is a perfect example. I've been sent out. It was my leaving service. The service performed a real function about something that is really happening. It's not just a symbol and it's not superstitious to acknowledge that 'the leaving' is really happening.
All that having been accomplished yesterday, I think Trevor and I were a tiny bit lost today (although I still have another communion service on Wednesday morning). We can't actually pack things into boxes because US customs requires the removal company to take responsibility for what is being shipped; therefore we have to leave the packing to the removal company. We spent the day slowly sorting through things, identifying items to be given away and thrown out.
The house is starting to feel chaotic. And an increasingly chaotic house will add to my stress levels as we approach August 8.