Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nostalgia

After serving our church for over 30 years, our senior pastor is now retired; today was his "last day of work." Several months ago he announced his retirement, and he has been preparing us for it ever since, mentioning it in his sermons, including in the services time for "the transition team" to speak about the steps that it's taking to find his replacement, and announcing along the way, "Well, this is the last time that I'll . . . " do this or that church-related thing. It's not that he takes some perverse delight in reminding us that he's leaving; it's that he wants the transition to go smoothly, and that requires preparing for the reality of his departure.

The church was packed today. Pastor Steve's family came from afar to be with him, and many members of the congregation whom we don't see in church regularly did show up today for his final service. Both children's choirs sang, the adult choir sang, the bell choir played, and the two organists played duets (one on the organ, the other on the piano) for the prelude and some of the hymns. Pastor Steve gave a gospel-centered sermon that still was personalized enough to include emotional goodbyes to the congregation, and the line out of the church moved very slowly after church as people hugged him and shared messages with him instead of just the usual handshake before leaving.

Afterward there was a luncheon and program at the Days Hotel; the event was billed as "a farewell celebration," and it was upbeat and filled with laughter. The ballroom was absolutely packed with people! We ate and viewed a slideshow presentation and listened to some music and a very, very funny speech by a congregation member who has been one of Pastor Steve's good friends for three decades. Susan, Abigail, and Hillary stayed until the end, but Suzanna and I had to leave early because . . .

. . . we had a Sons of Norway lodge meeting this afternoon, too! As lodge musician, Suzanna had to arrive early enough to set up the keyboard so that the meeting could begin with the singing of the national anthems. We got everything set up, hooked up, plugged in, turned on, and ready to go right on time, and Susan and the other girls got there in time for the meeting, too. After the meeting, Suzanna and I led the group in singing "Kan Du Glemme Gamle Norge?" It's a Norwegian-American folk tune about remembering the motherland ("How Can You Forget Old Norway?"). It's the musician's duty to teach Norwegian songs to the lodge, and not everybody knew that song (although some did) (but not the Mobergs), so mission accomplished for today's meeting.

To summarize today: nostalgia (for church days of yore and for Norway of yore).

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