Three vignettes from the Third Sunday in Advent, here in our congregation:
In our class discussion of Acts 14, we came to a conclusion: Luke is saying “the church is a community of dramatic new life.” So, think about the church today. Would we agree with that description? People in class said yes. “I’m happier now [that I’m involved here] than I’ve ever been.” “I used to think life was work. Now, it’s more about human connection.” Nothing during the week compares with passing the peace.
In church, the children’s message was about the difference between happiness and joy; our pastor had a bag of mints, and the question was could you have all the happiness in that bag all at once? Someone said – “well, if I shared it …” And they proceeded to do that, passing mints out to everyone in the sanctuary. For a couple of minutes, everyone’s attention was on making sure everyone got a mint. Such a small thing. But exhilarating.
Long-time members are moving away, downsizing. Today was the send-off party. After worship we ate all the food people had brought – pimento cheese and spinach dip and the cookies that are in the church cook book and so on – and told our stories, wrote messages on the big poster board decked out with pictures and wide margins, mostly kept from crying, too much. How else do people say these things that cannot quite be expressed in words? You are woven into the fabric of our lives; tying off those threads will leave a hole; we have practiced and sung in choir together all these years, we have worked on committees, painted houses, cleaned up in the kitchen, pulled weeds, shared and lived the stories of our lives … you matter to us, we will miss you, we wish you well, we want you to be happy …
The church is a community of dramatic new life, disguised as something so ordinary that sometimes the drama takes you completely by surprise.