Saturday, November 19, 2011

Giving Thanks

Yesterday, our worship service started, literally on a beautiful note, although the pianist mentioned the pedal was not working.  Undaunted, she began to play the hymn, "Give Thanks."  We all began singing as we went about the tasks of greeting people, handing out song sheets, and setting things out for communion, simple tasks that I never seem to tire of.  I see Barbara in her usual spot.  She always sits in front, very upright, with her small  purse in her lap, giving me the sense that we are all waiting for the bus. The whole time I have known her, she has always politely declined communion.   However, this week, I heard the quiet response of "Yes, I believe I will."  In ministry, yeses, no matter how softly spoken, ring loudly.  It is as if I am hearing the peal of church bells.
Our ministry has always been well received in this home.  Often, several staff members will stop their work to sing a hymn with us or take communion, and this day was no exception. After worship, the activity director came up to me, and excitedly said, "Oh, Reverend (she always chimes the word in three distinct syllables), I have something to tell you.  I am being baptized the Sunday after Thanksgiving!"   We hugged, and an image of Mary and Elizabeth greeting one another came to my mind.  It is difficult to describe, but that moment seemed so full of the mystery of what had come before, and what lies ahead. I was reminded of the beauty of faith-filled friendships and why I tend to the table. Yes, I wear a stole, but an apron would do just as well.        

Perhaps this what Barbara knows - that we are not waiting for the bus, but rather we are already on it.  And there Christ is.                           

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lightening Up

Recently I learned that a man who used to rent a house in our neighborhood had passed after having had a heart attack.  He had been terribly burdened by at least one addiction and very poor health.  Eventually even keeping a roof over his head proved to be too much.  Nonetheless, most of us in the neighborhood had liked him.  As one neighbor put it, "I think at the bottom of his heart, he liked people.  He could not get his life together, but I think at the bottom of it all, he was a good man." 
Since that conversation, I have been thinking of the heart as a basket that periodically needs cleaning out.  There are many ways to do this sort of housekeeping: prayer, meditation, or even a good conversation are some of the ways we can lighten the load we are carrying.  It is important that we find a way to do this.  Sometimes we need to hand our burdens over, or at least set them down for awhile.  We just don't need to carry it all, and truly, we cannot.   Some burdens are for God alone.  It really is possible to lighten up, and even discover some long forgotten goodness stuffed at the bottom of an over-weighted heart.      
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden light.  
                                                               - Matthew 11:28- 30    
 Go with God, my friend.  You can now travel light.