Today I'm feeling a bit like a person without a country. Yesterday was our final day at church. I turned in my church key, gave "farewell" notes to some close friends, paid for a church cookbook, and sang for the last time with my fellow FOG singers and musicians. Eleven years ago, we named ourselves the Family Of God group and I think it was Spouse who said we should be called "FOG", and so we were.
Spouse and I were the last ones to leave yesterday and as I let the locked door close behind me, I was aware that for the first time in 22 years I couldn't get back into my church. It was an odd feeling. I don't think I will ever need to get into the church, but knowing I can't is the thing.
It was completely coincidental that the F.O.G. contemporary music group chose to present "Beatles Sunday" yesterday. I'd been waiting for about two years for the group to perform Beatles tunes using the liturgical lyrics I'd been asked to compose. They were challenging but fun to write. The group initially seemed excited about the new lyrics but I think there must have been some hesitancy in performing them for fear of appearing irreverent in the church. We had our pastor's approval and the members seemed anxious to hear the songs, but they had finally stopped asking when Beatles Sunday would be held.
The songs are always chosen a week or two ahead of the service and some members of the group (not me) asked if we could have the Beatles service. The leader and bass guitarist is the ultimate Beatles fan and it was at his urging I composed the lyrics. He said it was time we presented the songs. That was before I had any idea I'd be leaving the church, but the timing was amazing.
So we sang our hearts out yesterday to the tunes of some familiar Beatles music - "Offer Praise and Give Thanks" (From Me to You) - "His Word Is True Today" (Things We Said Today) - "In Our Lives" (In My Life) - "Let It Be" (same title, different words) - "Show Us the Way" (Eight Days a Week), and a few others. I hope the congregation realized the words and the feelings in one's heart were much more important than the tunes to which the words were sung.
The service and songs seemed to be well received and I found myself wondering if I had made the best decision about my membership since I knew that was probably the last time I'd be able to sing those songs with my group. When I thought about all the church trials and tribulations Spouse and I have endured in 22 years, and all the rumblings and undercurrent present in the church right now (see the previous post), I knew we had reached the best decision.
I walked to the parking lot and looked back once more, glancing at a small tree growing by the side of the building. Last year the tree held a little nest that was home to three baby birds. Without letting anyone know about the birds, I checked on them every Sunday and often saw their mama with them or in a tree close by. If I was at the church mid-week to do some work on music files, I checked the nest and left a little food for the mama. I watched those little birds develop feathers and grow stronger, until one day when I checked, the nest was empty. I knew the little birds had flown away to discover the world.
Perhaps Spouse and I are somewhat like those little birds. We've flown from the nest but there's a big world out there to explore.