Well, not totally. I am a preacher after all. And to be fair to myself, it's probably still a little early to try and process all that could and should be said. When you love people the way I've loved the church I've served for the past ten-plus years and they love you right back, it takes a while to verbalize what all that means. So I'll cut myself some slack.
In the meantime, I'll say what I can say through pictures, sounds, video. First, the picture. It's the stole the church presented me with in worship yesterday - made by a good friend, nonetheless. Music, Lighthouse, Creation Care, The Cross, Handprints, The Rock (Mount Airy granite, of course). And a green stole, which means I can wear it the most Sundays of the year and be liturgically correct (it's a Presbyterian thing). The best part was that they gave it to me first thing yesterday morning, so I got to wear it throughout worship. The even better best part was that, as part of my sermon (which you can read and listen to HERE), I gave everyone their own stole. We didn't even plan that. Awesome.
Next, sound: So I wanted to write the youth group a song, because they're an amazing group of young people who totally have my heart. But - I would not write a sappy song. Which was meant with tremendous sighs of relief when I told them this at their youth group meeting a week ago. Everyone was a bit emotional, you see. We needed levity. So it was a good thing that I went for the slightly off-kilter theme song that, while certainly isn't my best lyrical work, is still one of my favorites, primarily because of who it's written for. You can listen to the song (and even download the mp3 if you want to):
And finally, video. So the church had a wonderful reception for us after worship yesterday. Lots of hugs, kind words, more than a few tears, good food and delicious cake. And the debut of the Beacon theme song, of course. They also made a point of including my wife and sons in the goodbyes, which I was most grateful for, because it's not just me that's leaving. The church gave us a wonderful Lindsleys mailbox full of sweet cards and notes we'll treasure for a long time. The youth gave our boys large laminated lighthouses (hence their name the Beacons) with signatures and sweet notes to put on the walls of their new bedroom in Charlotte. And for my lovely wife, they sang a song that really says it all:
By the way, see that cool handprint guitar? We made that at youth group last week, mimicking the handprints of all the youth over the years that adorn the inside of the Lighthouse walls. We made two guitars, actually - one to stay in that Lighthouse and one to travel with us to Charlotte. I'm pretty sure I killed a few brain cells spraying eight coats of Polycrylic on these things all last week, but it was totally worth it.
Like the song says, "Just know you're not alone / I'm gonna make this place your home." PhilipDave PhillipsMatthews pretty much nailed it: home is more about people than a place. In a little less than a month we'll be making a new home in the Queen City, but a part of us will always remain in Mayberry (hopefully not our actual house, which happens to be for sale if you're interested). In a world where so much is fleeting and fake, this has been real, my friends. And real stuff never really goes away. And that is a very very good thing.