Members and Friends of Living Table UCC, it was a joy to worship with you this past Sunday. I was touched by the energy in your singing and the authenticity and compassion I sensed in the room. I was inspired by Pastor Rachael’s honest, prophetic preaching! I also sensed a communal yearning to live more fully into the kind of faithful, loving witness that heals broken lives and hearts, as well as broken systems.
In my second meeting with your Sabbatical Team (an amazing group of human beings, by the way!), I asked two questions. The first was, “What elements in your usual order of service are the ‘sacred cows’ to this congregation?” The SAB team’s answer was similar to the sentiments some of you have already expressed, “Change anything else, but don’t mess with the way we do communion!” What would your answer be?
My second question to the team was, “What would you like more of in worship?” Pastor Rachael answered, “More spaciousness . . . in which Spirit can move!” Several others said, “Yes!” How would you respond?
How fitting it seems that the first Sunday in our 3-month journey together is Pentecost! Pentecost is rooted in the Jewish tradition, Shavuot, or Festival of Weeks. Fifty days after Passover, Jews gathered for Shavuot, bringing portions of their early harvests as thanksgiving gifts to share. Shavuot also commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The story in the New Testament book of Acts tells us that into the midst of this Shavuot celebration, Spirit swirled like tongues of fire and the rush of a mighty wind and the inexplicable experience of pilgrims comprehending languages they did not speak!
Your worship leaders and I will invite you to reenact the story with a few props and sound effects. We will ponder the brow-furrowing, inexplicable experience of Spirit’s presence among us. To prepare yourselves to reenter this story, the SAB Team and I invite you to ponder a moment in your own life in which you may have experienced Spirit moving in and around you – a time when you may have sensed Spirit’s spaciousness, flexibility, energy, or curiosity abiding in you or working through you? . . . The sanctuary will be awash with all sorts of fiery colors! If you are so inclined, clothe yourself in those hues, as well.
Thank you, again, for your generous welcome to me last Sunday. Thank you, too, for ritualizing your commitment to this sabbatical time by literally tying up your hopes and prayers into a loosely formed handful of colorful yarn! Did you notice that you left lots of room for Spirit to stretch and move? Our pile of yarn wasn’t tight or tidy. You didn’t try to force it into an inflexible, ‘perfect’ shape of any kind. In fact, you left room for Spirit to move in ways we have yet to imagine! You manifested a symbol of pliability and spaciousness, in which we might dive to even greater depths and make even more courageous choices.
May it be so!
With anticipation and gratitude,