In the church, just like on road of life, it is easy to get caught up in the daily struggles, the annoying frustrations, and the bumps along the road. At one time or another, we will all undoubtedly have our feelings hurt, be judged by another, or feel like what we do doesn’t matter. Here in Oldtown, because we are a church made up of human beings, there will always be arguments between personalities, disagreement as to how we should do things, and the fear of that which we cannot control. And though our faith tells us that there is another way, it is easy to lose sight of the Kingdom of God that is right here among us.
Every year when I sit down to write my annual report, because I often can’t remember what we did yesterday, let alone for the last calendar year; I have to hunt for pieces of the puzzle before I can begin to work on putting it all together.
This year as I began searching for the pieces, I quickly found the ones that held within them arguments, frustrations, worries, and even broken relationships. I remembered how we had to close our sanctuary for the first 2 months of the year because of the pandemic and the struggles we had trying to decide when masks should be mandatory and when we could drop the mandate. If I stopped searching for puzzle pieces at that point, we wouldn’t have much to celebrate today, but the good news is, I didn’t stop there. I just kept searching.
I suddenly remembered the joy that we all shared baptizing Jimmy Dumont and welcoming him, his mom Janice, Cheryl LoPriore, and Beth Sanford into our church family. I remembered, during the season of Lent, the first time that we celebrated communion, in person, sharing the bread and the cup with our church family after almost 2 years! And I remembered the amazing and varied gifts of music that our church family so generously shares. Once I began to crack open the vault of sacred moments, they flowed out like milk and honey!
Our year was filled with many firsts. We worked to fully reopen and rebuild our congregation, as the dark cloud of the pandemic slowly began to fade. But to be honest, there were even moments during the pandemic, when we came to learn what was truly important in our lives and what really matters to our faith. The truth is, we are a different congregation today, than we were 3 years ago, and that is not a bad thing, because God is always making things new!
With joy filled hearts we were able to bring back, Household Huddle, many of our fellowship activities and our church fair. We even offered a few new opportunities through “Breaking Bread and Sharing Sacred Stories,” which allowed us to have open conversation about scripture, and “To Everything there is a season” which offered a safe and welcoming place during the holidays to those who were grieving.
As the pieces of the puzzle continued to come together and I caught a wider glimpse of our last year here in Oldtown, my eyes slowly began to fill with tears. Because I came to realize, not the arguments and the fear, or the difficulties and the disagreements, but just how much, in the last 12 months, our church family has worked together. For 10 of the last 52 Sundays, because of my vacation time and the 6-week sabbatical the church so generously shared with me, our church family worked together to lead worship and to feed and inspire one another. And from those experiences, people have started stepping into new roles and have begun trying new things.
Friend’s what an amazing picture of the peaceable kingdom and the Kingdom of God, right here in our midst. Is it perfect? No. But it’s real, and it’s sacred, and I for one am truly blessed to be a part of it.
Blessings of peace to all of you!