I feel like I just showed up. I have been at the General Synod of the United Church of Christ for three days. I have engaged in thoughtful discussion and deliberation. I have heard impassioned speeches and sermons. I have trusted the spirit of discernment and ecclesia. But still, I confess that I did not feel wholly present, wholly moved, wholly inspired – until now.
I feel like I just showed up at Synod. At least that is what I said when I left worship. But, I don’t think that is true. It is not so much that I just showed up here, as it is that my heart just broke open here. More specifically, it is that my heart just burst, overflowing with the Spirit of God, alive and amazing and undeniably present, in this place. Synod does that.
Earlier this day, this Sunday, I was keenly aware that the people of my church, the people in my little corner of the country, in my sweet community in Massachusetts, the people with whom I usually share God’s holy and blessed feast of communion, were gathered without me. They were breaking bread. They were sharing the cup. They were celebrating God’s love for all. While I knew that they were in very good hands, I admit that there was a small part of me that wished I could be there, even as I am grateful and feel blessed to be here.
It is a hazard of the job, to say nothing of our social media world, to be in one place and find yourself thinking and praying for someone or something in another place. Ministry challenges us to hold many things in our hearts and minds. And with so many people to love, we wouldn’t want it any other way.
But every once in a while, there are precious moments, extraordinary and oh, so holy, when God breaks in to our hearts so fully that we can hold nothing else at all. Traci Blackmon preaches a sermon or the Water Protectors are honored, and we see glorious glimpses of God. But today, God held my heart and would not let it go. And in that moment, during holy communion, I felt wholly present, wholly moved, and wholly inspired.
This ritual that we enact week after week or month after month felt anything but ordinary today. In the church I serve, communion is usually passed among persons who are all as white as the bread. I see Christ in them, and they inspire me with their lives and their work. But today, we shared communion with countless strangers who reflect a full and beautiful array of what it looks like to be the body of Christ: black and brown and white, gay and straight and trans, spry and slow and disabled, tattooed and wrinkled and scarred, beloved and beloved and beloved. We sang as only a thousand or more church folks could sing, “though we are many, we are one body, we are one body in Christ.” This is what it looks like to be a multi-racial, multi-cultural, open and affirming, accessible to all community. This is what it looks like when you catch a glimpse of God.
Such moments fill me to overflowing, often pooling tears in my eyes so I cannot focus on anything but the God in our midst, and adding a lump in my throat as if to remind me that there are no words to fully express God’s boundless love. After all, who can say what it feels like when your heart is overflowing with the Spirit of God, alive and amazing and undeniably present in your midst? It is indescribable.
And yet, I try to put words to it anyway.
Yes. I expect that God is laughing. If She is going to show up so fully in worship, why shouldn’t She join in the joy and laughter of Synod, too!
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