Sunday morning came around as it always does, and we came to church, as we always do, and we had Sunday school and worship and fellowship and more Sunday school, as we always do. To any outside observer it would have seemed indistinguishable from any other Sunday.
We could feel the difference, of course. We could feel the difference, even though things were good this Sunday.
The “Preacher of the Day” was someone many of us know well and love dearly and his sermon was meaningful: when disaster strikes, when in the words of Psalm 77 “I cry aloud to God … in the day of my trouble,” then it is a good idea to (also in the words of Psalm 77) “muse on your [God’s] mighty deeds.”
The operant word being “to muse” – that is, as our preacher explained, to mull over and be open to meaning. He linked it to the Greek notion of the Muses, the idea that some spirits, or the Spirit, may bring us an idea or insight. It’s a false etymology, but the likely real one (according to Funk & Wagnalls) works pretty well, too: Old French “to stand with muzzle in the air” – that is, in effect, sniffing out some faint, perhaps distant, still-perceptible or just-becoming-perceptible scent. And that too, of course, is a kind of openness to meaning.
We could feel the difference, but we were on the job. The “order of service” that many of us still think of as “the bulletin” got typed and printed and the errors were not too noticeable. The calendar is getting updated and the committees are going to meet. We are attending to the illnesses and deaths in the family, although everyone will need to be helping out the deacons on this, but honestly, people do that already.
There is a lot of routine built in to the life of a church, or (according to the language of the denominational headquarters) “a worshipping community,” and while keeping that routine going during “a time of transition” takes some extra coordination, the fact that we do keep it going reminds us that we have Someone to keep it going for, and that we will.
As the liturgy says: “Let us worship God …”
Or, in other words, let us continue to assemble on Sunday mornings and confess sin and hear words of assurance about that and welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us and pray and read scripture and listen to “the proclamation of the Word” and respond to that by sharing communion and by offering ourselves in various ways to this work that really never does stop, that stops for nothing really, though it takes notice of everything, takes in everything … muses on everything, maybe.
And keeps everything in perspective:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (I Peter 1:3-4, KJV)
Through all moments and moods. Including the moment and mood of this first Sunday when we were all noticing, as our youngest worshipper (according to his mom) announced as he entered the building, “I miss Pastor Phillip.”