11 May An Abundance of Grace
For the past month I have been preaching about the Church and simultaneously, I have been experiencing church in ways that have left me speechless with wonder and delight. Last week I wrote about the myriad celebrations that had occurred in my community—a wedding, an ordination to the pastorate, Calvary’s 70th birthday, anniversaries, a third-grader receiving her Bible. It was a big-time “wow!” This past Saturday a different kind of community gathering happened, but it resulted in a very similar kind of “wow!” About 45 people showed up for an “all hands on deck” work day. We had several major projects to tackle as well as lots of small ones. For starters, 857 organ pipes had to be washed and labeled in preparation for their installation later this month. One large crew took on that gargantuan task upstairs. In the basement, a painting job was desperately needed in a corner that looked like it hadn’t seen fresh paint in….hmmm, I don’t have any idea how long. In the sanctuary, pew repairs and a good Spring-cleaning were the order of the day. After all the construction and renovation in our worship space over the past few months, there’s nothing like Murphy’s Oil Soap to set things right.
Another big crew worked outside in multiple areas of the yard. A chain saw, hedge trimmers and a pick ax, plus numerous shovels, rakes and trowels stayed in steady use as shrubs were planted or transplanted, dead trees removed, weeds and invasive ivy dug out by the roots, flower pots created, and dozens of bags of mulch spread. In the end, it was a stunning transformation. Last, but certainly not least, in the kitchen…..well, can I just say that we have incredible cooks and grill masters in this church? Breakfast, lunch and snacks kept providing tasty fuel for sweaty workers all day long.
Nothing about any of this sounds particularly fun. We were inundated with dust, dirt and pollen; complaints of back and knee, muscle and joint pain were frequent, loud, and accompanied by very strange groans. The preparation and planning for such a day took hours and hours, accompanied by numerous trips to garden centers and hardware stores. Why bother? And especially, why give up an entire Saturday to do chores that you actually have a choice about doing?
The root of the answer, I believe, is community. The day was not a day of drudgery at all. Yes, we worked hard, but the conversations, jokes and laughter made it fun. People got to know one another better and we bonded over a shared mission—to make our space, both inside and out, a reflection of the joy and energy we are experiencing together in community. We learned new “factoids” about each other, we saw skills on display we had no idea people possessed, we shared the deep satisfaction of achieving a common goal, and we experienced several “God moments,” as well. Working together on Saturday felt like a coming together and a deepening of something we greatly value—one another and God’s presence among us.
I have been part of work days before, but I have never looked forward to one with so much anticipation and joy—and then had the real experience exceed all expectations. And, I’ve certainly never had people volunteer to come back again the very next week to keep the projects moving forward, but that’s exactly what has happened. So, I’ll be back in the church yard on Saturday, likely covered with more dirt and pollen. I can’t wait.
Yours for the Kingdom,