It's been coming for a while, but it was still a shock. Yesterday was my last day as curate of the two churches I've been serving for the last three and a half years. That's just about enough time to get to know the place and the people, to put down roots and to feel that I'm being useful.
It was a day of mixed emotions - excited about the future, moved by the number of people who turned out to my farewell bash, and horribly sad to be going. Just before I got up to preach at the main communion service I was almost in tears, just seeing all the different people from many different parts of the church's life who were there.
But it was also a great day. Preaching and presiding at the eucharist for the whole Benefice; lunch in the church hall and ritual humiliation, sorry, entertainment. This included me being taped to a chair by the vicar, some woeful attempts at Geordie accents, and two generations of the youth group having their say. My contribution was at the expense of the vicar (well he is the sort of vicar that tapes his curates to chairs!). We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the parishes in many ways, but the gifts we have been given are fantastic. Finally, choral evensong (a taste of things to come), with another sermon from me. Then we hit the pub.
I spent today stripping wallpaper in the new vicarage, and trying to process some of the events of yesterday. I think I'm allowed to be sad for a few days, before I get excited again about the next job.