detail of Van Gogh painting of old bell tower

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We were worn out yesterday, mostly in a good way.

Our Holiday Bazaar, mostly an annual thing, was Saturday.

tables displaying bazaar items, quilt, people, in church meeting hall
Corydon Presbyterian Church Holiday Bazaar, November 17, 2018

It takes a lot of work: setting up the tables in the multi-purpose room, gathering up the things to sell and arranging them for display – even though we reduced this a lot this year by relying on Global Gifts, and what a really great idea of our pastor’s that was! – making food soups and sandwich fillings, which a whole platoon of people do at home and bring to church on Saturday morning, setting up the serving area, not to mention signs and advertising and various forms of communication, and then being there the day of …

Every year is different. This year, the group that has been meeting for years one Saturday a month to use the choir room for sewing projects (Sew Happy Together) made and donated a magnificent quilt (“Farm Girl” pattern, they announced) as an expression of their gratitude for the space and the fellowship. Someone did buy it, for a sufficiently large sum of money, which was gratifying.

Also this year, VOICES of Kentuckiana gave a brief choral performance at one end of the hall at 12:30, the first outside event in the Partners in Harmony program the group has started. That program is meant to build relationships between the choir and local churches, synagogues and faith communities. People stopped shopping and eating to listen, the audience definitely outnumbered the singers, and all the responses were positive – at least, all the ones that I heard, but since I was one of the singers, maybe none of the negatives would have mentioned it to me, you never know.

As people from the chorus came in to the sanctuary to warm up, I realized my own feelings were surprisingly complex. Some of the chorus members, like me, are “church people,” but others aren’t; none are people who go to “my church,” so I had some of that feeling of “hope you like it here” and wanting things to be nice and just being glad people have come to visit; mixed with a sense of gratitude for the VOICES, because having the performance definitely added something marvelous to the bazaar; mixed with a sense of gratitude for my church, because not every church would host VOICES; mixed with a sense of … invitation, maybe? Offering? Welcome? Blessing? I don’t know, it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Our pastor shared a prayer with the group at the end of warm-up before we assembled in the hall that gathered up a lot of that … it was a profound day, as it turned out.

There’s traditionally a certain amount of anxiety around this event. People worry about whether there’ll be good attendance (this year, there was) and whether we’ll make any money (this year we did, but in the end, this may not be the main thing) and whether there will be enough desserts (this year there were, but there always are, actually). And some people always, mostly, end up doing too much of the work.

And then, we are all older than we used to be. Our feet get sore faster and stay sore longer.

But there is something incomparable about having this beautiful time together with people from church, and people from around town, talking, catching up, eating together, smiling and laughing and having an ordinary day in an extraordinary way. Something beautiful. Something meaningful. Something that embodies that notion of “God with us.”

Our pastor gave us these words for meditation on Sunday:

There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there.
– Sir Robertson (might as well be anonymous)

We ought to go with the faith, I think.

detail of Van Gogh painting of old bell tower

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