Mike, my husband, will retire after 37 years in ministry on July 1. Last Saturday morning, as I was at my desk, spending some time reflecting before going to the Y, I heard a voice downstairs. I knew Mike was home, but at first I thought he was talking on the phone. However, as I listened, I realized he was practicing his sermon. I should have guessed-- he's been doing that for years.
Then I remembered that when the children were home, they often asked, "Do we have to got to church? We've heard dad practice his sermon at least twice today." The answer to that question was always, "Yes."
There are so many rituals I will miss. The rhythm of the week-- Mike's day off on Thursday, watching him bring the sermon home on Friday, his being wrapped in the bulletin, listening to him practice on Saturday-- rarely scheduling anything social on Saturday night, so Mike can get to bed close to 9, and the peak time of the week, four Sunday services, with a gradual let down when he finally left church close to 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon. I can't imagine listening to anyone else preach. Mike's my favorite. I know the pattern of each sermon, carefully patterned after preaching professors at Duke-- Carlyle Marney and John Bergland.
A big change is on the way, and the one to which I look most forward is sitting next to Mike in church-- something I haven't done for 35 years.