June is here and with it the start of a journey toward a brighter future. Of course, that could mean anything to anyone, but I’ll be happy to talk about what I’ve seen in the last month, how I see it being emblematic of our church community, and the hope I have for the future.
I’ll start out by saying that choir gatherings on Thursday evenings outside have been a bright spot. Since the beginning of May, these gatherings have been a joy to lead and behold. Our first week or two we all seemed a little bit like hibernating animals who were getting used to the light again. We greeted each other, stumbled over conversations a bit and took some time to be intentional about asking how we were.
I don’t mean that casual question you ask when you see someone you know in the grocery store. No, I mean that deep question you ask someone after they’ve gone through some kind of trauma or deep loss. Those first few weeks we truly asked one another, “how are you” as we tried to regain our footing as a people. The answers to that question have not been the breezy, “doing good!” we tend to want to respond with. No, the answers have been nuanced in fear and hope. We have spoken of trust, of rules of engagement, of the dark spaces in our lives waiting to be illuminated.
And, my friends, this is why the future is bright. Because contrary to what the world would tell us, a group of people with differing opinions is able to gather with a singular focus in mind. That focus may appear to be music, but it isn’t; music is the means to an end. That end, the focus of this group, is love. Love shown by Jesus on the cross. Self-sacrificial love that bears with the community, meets people where they are, lifts them up and says, “let’s go together.”
The future is bright because 19 young men and women just affirmed baptismal promises. The future is bright because gathering together indoors for a church service this coming Sunday is just step of many toward renewal. The future is bright because God, almighty God, deigns to dwell with us and go with us on this grand adventure rather than sit on some throne far away issuing decrees.
Maybe this is pie-in-the-sky hopefulness. Maybe I’m naive to think that one group of people having a few conversations that are slightly uncomfortable means that the world is turning around. But hasn’t God done this before? When all seemed lost, didn’t God send commandments, pillars of fire and smoke, prophets, Jesus? I believe that the future is bright because I know God has never forsaken God’s people and never will and if that’s naive, I’ll stay that way.