Monday, June 16, 2008
Orchestration - well, maybe
As some of you readers might remember, my spouse has recently retired as Rector of our Episcopal church here in town. The new Rector has been selected but until he arrives and is comfortably in place, tradition has it that the retiring rector and family vacate the church premises for a while. That while will turn out to be about 10 months for us when we return and for a couple who has spent a great deal of time and energy on the grounds of St. Paul's Episcopal Church for the last 8 years, it's a very strange feeling to not be participating with or surrounded by our church family.
Of course, we're not now among the "unchurched" - there is a tiny, little Episcopal Church about 35 miles away and we have been going there a couple of times a month for worship. Also, in town we've visited local parishes of the Roman Catholics, the Methodists, and the Lutherans. This past Sunday we had planned to attend Christ Lutheran again but as we pulled in the driveway at 10:20, it was apparent by the looks of the parking lot that the congregation was very settled in - the sign out front saying "welcome to summer hours - 9:30 a.m." we shrugged and I said, "Well there's only one place we can go now and that is definitely to St. Paul's."
We slipped in the back and boy, there's something very comforting to sit in a familiar pew, with familiar folks, with familiar sacred liturgy, including songs accompanied by an organ! It was home and it almost makes me cry now just thinking about the feeling of being embraced by "all".
Besides comfort, a bonus we didn't expect....unknowingly, we slipped in right behind the new priest's young wife who was in town to home shop for them. She was warm, friendly, and JUST right. I expect her husband and young children will be also! (I can recall vividly the warm reception that we received when we arrived 8 years ago and they will receive no less from the parish family.)
Our second bonus was we were also seated behind a parishioner friend who has just been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and awaits her treatment prescription. She sobbed a good bit of the service but the bonus part was seeing the love and care given by all people around her as they "know" her, they feel her pain, they anguish over her diagnosis and are praying diligently for her physical and mental health.
And lastly, as I glanced around the pews, well, you guessed it, bonus number three, I saw there is plenty left for me to return to in the fall - new faces not yet met, front pews empty, lots of love to be shared. It was a good day:)!
I don't believe in God's micro-managing but there were sure a lot of convenient coincidences that allowed us to take a break from our break and to sit in the comfort of God's embrace for that hour....I bet a lot of you don't believe in God's micro-management either but some gifts just seem to be orchestrated, don't they?