I wish you knew my congregation.
I drove to Tiny Town in the rain early this morning thinking I might be the teacher for Church School. I prepared a lesson on the Old Testament lectionary text about Moses in the wilderness of Sin. (Sin as in a geographic place, not a moral place). It’s next Sunday that I begin my teaching so I sat down to enjoy the lesson. Our very old organist was in class this week with us and began to weep. Asked why she was crying, she told us that she felt so blessed and happy that she couldn’t keep it all in. "I wept all the way here", she said. We asked her what was going on and she said she woke up full of love for God.
She plays the organ as if we were an old-time revival tent meeting. As a stiff-backed dour Presbyie from a high church tradition (if there is such a thing with us), I think her music is dance hall splendid. I’m not saying anything to her. When I get to be in my late 80's, I don’t want a youngster to tell me my preaching is dated. I’ll know it’s dated and hope I have a place to share it. We are that place for her. I don’t know many of the songs she suggests as preludes, offertories or postludes. I pick the hymns, the service music is her choice. She offered to play my favorite song for the offertory today and I asked if she would play one close to her heart instead. I didn’t recognize the tune.
It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t believe the music is very important to the service. I believe all this. I do care. I care that Miss X be given a place to blast us out of the building with her being "full of God."
I wish you knew my congregation. I’m not kidding. I see flashes of grace in such array that I come away blinded.
Do you remember how I was discouraged about my congregation not knowing the meaning of the Lord’s Supper? I felt I was plowing a rocky field trying to teach them the basics. Today I heard my Clerk of Session welcome our three new members by telling them of the Great Ends of the Church and how these were our purpose. I almost fell out of my chair. I didn’t know he knew these although we’d discussed them over a year ago.
In a nod to the Academy Awards tonight, I used the Academy, "may I have the envelope, please" idea and presented the Samaritan Woman at the Well the Award for "First Evangelist (outside of the Disciples) and had "her" explain why she won the award and what happened to her at the Well when she met Jesus. I was both the Woman and the Presenter. My sermon bordered on the gimmicky but since I seldom take the gimmick road to preaching, I jumped into character and delivered the sermon. It worked. On the drive to Tiny Town, I tossed out my prepared sermon to go with the Academy Award’s idea.
One of my members says that Tiny Town church reminds her of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. I see the connection between Mitford’s Lord’s Chapel and us. This makes me Father Tim which doesn’t quite work as he is not a girly girl. But I am Father Tim-ish because I do look around in wonder at the lives of my saints and thank God for each one of them.