A few years back there was a popular song called "Closing Time", which had a catchy line that I have remembered, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." And so I find myself. The point of the posts I have been writing lately is to talk about how I reached this point in my faith journey. I confess that this has helped me as I get ready for classes to start to further refine my perspective as it is and has been shaped until now. So before I get to the post where I talk about the church I have considered home for almost two decades, I need to write about today while it is fresh. Although for me many things have kicked around in my brain that led me here, for many who know me only casually, it would not be obvious that I would take what seems to many a dramatic change in course. After all there are plenty of very devoted laypeople who are .. laypeople.
As people were seeing me in the hall before church, having seen the Godspeed in the bulletin, and then during the actual service itself, I was pretty sure I was going to cry. Women in their 40's sometimes just do that. Instead it felt energizing and peaceful at the same time. A kind of validation of where I am and what comes next.
As I was communing people, they were holding my hand and the bread. Normally there is a moment with each person, but this was more today.People kneeling and looking up at me, in a much more connected way than we Pennsylvania Germans will engage in.
At the end of the recession, I come out into the center of the aisle for the sending. Someone is trying to talk to me and wish me well.
Lots of hugs and best wishes in fellowship time. Lots of congratulations. I jokingly said that the time to congratulate me will be someday when I have completed my studies. One person said," No, congratulations for being able to make this step and be open to God's call. Not everyone can or will."
Early in my discernment I wondered if I was worthy of a calling such as this. Then my thinking shifted to the idea that the question is as much about being willing. Willing to trust, willing to have that conviction of things unseen and assurance of things hoped for. Willing to allow God to mold me.
In the daily life of a congregation it is easy allow the minutiae to drag you down, and then we lose sight of the real purpose and goal. And it can be hard to see Christ in others when they are telling you that they cannot teach today and that is in 15 minutes, or they forgot it was their week to bring the snack, or I am on my way to worship and someone just needs to vent about a mistake in the bulletin concerning altar flowers because as a Council member I should know. We all know these moments that can just sap the ability to love your fellow Christian at that moment.
As St. Ignatius states we are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord. Kind of a personal mission statement for us and our expression of God's church. He also states ( and I paraphrase) we are to rid ourselves of the things that hinder us from accomplishing this.
As I have contemplated this for the last couple of weeks, I have focused in part not upon tangible things, but the intangibles. What are the things that we allow to hinder us from honoring God's call to us in our journey?
I think that my fellow parishioner had it right- it's not just about what we can do, but what we will do. AND whether what we will do serves God or merely serves our own list of demands, preferences and "gotta-have-its." And in my home church there is much to be excited about and a lot of nervousness about the dreaded "c" word-change. I pray that they can and will make the culture shifts that will carry them into the years ahead vibrantly, rather than riding off into the sunset remembering the glory days gone by.
In the moments of today where good friends and people who are fellow parishioners who I know mainly in passing, made the effort to connect, inquire, encourage and sustain me, they did more than just exchange pleasantries.
I came into today a little wistful, and a little nervous about how this acknowledgment of change would hit me ( even though I knew it was coming). Without realizing it, they ministered to me in a way that was God's touch upon my arm reassuring me. And in the end, this is why it will be hard to leave, because the tedious nanoseconds don't linger like the long term warm fuzzies of these folks.