I just got home after going to adult Sunday school, leading worship, hanging out after church, and then having our annual all church meeting (called the all church conference in Methodism). There weren't a lot of people in worship today, which is quite disappointing when it's the week before Christmas. But there was something good happening at church today that overshadowed the low attendance and overcame the weariness of the long day.
During the pre-worship meeting that I have with the folks involved in leading the service, I mentioned that today is "joy" Sunday, which made someone laugh as though today and today only are we to have joy in worship...and joy we must have. It set the mood for the rest of the morning; everything just seemed to fall in place. There were errors on the bulletin...and we just moved on past them. Some potentially difficult situations seem to resolve themselves. Even the all church conference had some moments of real joy as we discussed the things that we need to move or change in order to better live into our mission as Christ's church. We also listed the ways in which we are already gifted as Christ's church. I really valued hearing people speak passionately about their church home and about our potential. People shared honestly about some things that they find difficult, especially the challenge of telling those who haven't found our little church that there is a house of worship where you can find tradition, but find it reinvented and revisioned. During Sunday school, we discussed the concept of the Kingdom of God and the Jesus movement of the kingdom. It was a wonderful conversation - one I hope continues into and through the new year.
I am tired this third Sunday of Advent. It's been a long few days, but I am blessed to have experienced the joy of this turning point in the season of preparation. Today was one of those days when God's grace overwhelmed my "stuckness" and brought with it unexpected gifts. It almost always happens that as soon as I want to give up on the struggle of being in a small, progressive, urban church I am caught up in the goodness around me:
the adults coming forward because many of our kids were gone
the choir that offered the best of their spirit to the worship of God
the words of wisdom from unlikely people
the presence of a child I wish to know better
the faces of older adults, queer folks, little ones, and straight folks in one community
sound of great Advent hymns sung by people bursting to get to Christmas
the power of holy conferencing - of dreaming God's vision
the beauty of the struggle toward wholeness
Despite what it could have been, today was indeed a joy Sunday for me.
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