I share the cover picture for this devotion with you, because many of you may not get to see it live, unless you … stop by the church in the next two weeks … and take the time to step into the sanctuary and put on the lights.
The decorations are similar to previous years, thanks to Carol Esbenshade’s guidance of Sister Dottie in putting the decorations in place. It is a “usual” blessing, in that we decorate the sanctuary for Thanksgiving every year.
But this “usual” blessing was especially meaningful to me when I saw it on Sunday morning, because so many other things about the physical spaces in which we worship are so different … so spartan … so lonely these days. I miss the life and vitality that the rhythm of the church year brings to us through ordinary things like altar paraments … and sanctuary decorations … and narthex displays … and your voices lifting up hymns that speak to our liturgical seasons … and yes, even your seasonal clothing choices. Yes, Covid has taken some of the vitality from our communal life these past months, by making the gathering of the saints for live worship in our sanctuary … unsafe … and thus non-existent.
HOWEVER … however … however … this unusual period of time has also brought “unusual” blessings. On the occasional days that I enter the church through the main entrance instead of our “office back door” I often have the joy of bringing in some clothing donations for Lydia’s Closet, or canned food donations for those struggling to make ends meet. When I come across emails that alert me to visits or phone calls or cards that you have showered upon people in the church who are more isolated than most, I am reminded that Covid cannot destroy our spirit of community. The day I drove up to church on a Tuesday morning and saw a group of women sitting in a circle of chairs outside the church building, sharing their experiences as widows, I was reminded of the indominable spirit of those who grieve. Or when I am made aware of a creative and unique idea that one of you has come up with to embody a familiar ministry in a new way, I am humbled by your creativity.
Yes … we have lost many blessings in our life as a congregation. But God is an abundant God, and where one blessing disappears another two arise somewhere else. I would love to hear about the blessings you have experiences, faithful devotioneer. Email me a story, if you think about it, and we can celebrate that blessings … usual and unusual … together.