Yesterday was our last official Sunday at First UMC of Opelika. Brian preached his last sermon as Associate Pastor. I led worship for the last time as the wife of the Associate Pastor. This doesn’t mean Brian won’t ever preach again or that I won’t ever lead worship again, just not in the roles we have carried at First UMC of Opelika. It will look different for us now.
To say that yesterday was a bittersweet day is putting it lightly, in my opinion. I woke yesterday with a bit of anxiety, sadness, and expectancy. I am an emotional and sensitive person anyway, but knowing that this day had arrived brought it on ten times more. I prayed for God to calm my spirit. I asked Him to hold me together. I told Him I was afraid. And I told Him I would trust Him and follow Him no matter what I felt.
I finished getting ready and headed out the door with Brian and Kirstin, as we have done many Sundays before. But I walked into The HUB differently within my spirit. I said “good morning” to the worship team as I have each Sunday, but I said it thinking to myself, “this is the last Sunday morning here I will get to say that to them.”
We entered into worship rehearsal as we have done each Sunday, and we opened in prayer asking God to let our rehearsal be an act of worship. And the Spirit was so heavy upon us. I felt Him. He showed up and was so good. After rehearsal we walked across the street to say hello to people, and I was met with the faces of people who have blessed my life (and Brian’s, as well) in beautiful ways.
Then it was time for our Sunday morning prayer before the service. And the floodgates of emotion opened up again. I couldn’t help but think how this was the last Sunday morning prayer we would all have together as a worship team. The bittersweet tears began again. It was a beautiful moment. I felt the Lord’s presence and comfort.
And then it was time for the service to begin.
Leading worship is something I absolutely take joy in doing. Worship is my happy place. It’s a place where I completely lose myself in God’s presence. And He showed up in a big way yesterday. It was one of those times where you just don’t want it to end, and you feel as though you could stay in that moment for hours. And the whole team felt it. It was beautiful.
Brian preached just as he has done, with his heart. With passion. Being led by the Spirit. Leaving nothing out. Not holding back. As I looked at him preaching, I couldn’t help but thank God for him. I fell more in love with him in that moment, and I felt honored to not only be his wife but to do life with him. And I am incredibly thankful to be by his side for this journey the Lord is calling us to.
Then the service ended. I began packing up as I have done before, but this time I felt myself doing it a bit slower than usual. And the tears came again as hugs were shared and words were exchanged. My heart filled with so much thankfulness for these people. Gratitude for the honor of leading worship with this team. Thankful to call them friends.
Then we shared dinner with more friends, and it was yet again a beautiful moment. I couldn’t help but think of how much these people mean to me and Brian. Thinking of how much they have touched our lives and helped us to grow in Christ. They have made an impact in our lives that we will carry forever. We have laughed, we have cried, and we have prayed. We have done life together.
I won’t say that we said our “goodbyes,” because I know the people who God has brought into our lives during our time in Opelika will forever be in our lives. That’s what friends do. That’s what family is about. So, as we begin this new journey in our lives, we know that although we might be in another town doing ministry in a different way than before, we will still be connected with the beautiful people God has brought into our lives through First UMC Opelika.
The door to our home in Headland, Alabama will always be open. There will always be coffee ready to share. And there will always be a safe place to just be with friends. Brian and I hope you, our friends, will visit often. We love you, dear friends. And we are forever grateful for the friendship, love, and prayers you have offered to us.