Laissez les festivies commencer!

Last night I came home from a long, hard meeting - and found this note waiting for me on FB:

I just came from a church meeting re stewardship where we all decided we needed to act on a leap of faith, we needed to imagine a better world, we needed to stop talking about busted boilers and leaky roofs and start talking about love... and we are (in the Stewardship Committee, of all places!) trying to imagine a vibrant future based on our faith rather than keeping our doors open as a burial society. Your commitment to your music, and mine to my music, keeps us alive and feeds us, and somehow we have to keep trying to impart faith and joy to others, and fight off the other models you cleanly describe (the church as an instrument of secular therapy, or the church as a service club like the Rotary Club, etc.) I read your posts and appreciate them so much...

It was the soul food I needed at just the right moment.  Another dear blogging friend sent me this note about my discomfort over the up-coming anniversary celebration that included these words:

For you, it is about waaaay more than a weekend celebration. You are contemplating your life’s journey as a person of faith, the highs and lows, times you were lost, then found, the people you’ve met along the way, for better or for worse, the adventures and misadventures, the successes and failures, times of insight, times of confusion .... so, so much and all of it emotionally laden. AND it’s about the details of pulling off the celebration and the service, being present and open to the moment as you see old friends, greet family and loved ones.  For the others, it’s about wanting to honor you and your ministry of 30 years.

And then my band mates sent me some words of encouragement including this:

I drove home with a sense of peace and joy and satisfaction that comes from being in the spirit, inspired and so glad to have shared in it with such beautiful people....I appreciate you all...thank you.  Maybe James, even though a personal celebration so well deserved, but also a way in which the light spreads beyond and brightens some of the darker corners of many other lives. You have attracted good things and its contagious!
 
To me, ministry has become a collaboration in trust and beauty, using one an other's strengths to fortify our weakness and combining our unique gifts into something greater than the parts.  This weekend that will be most clearly exhibited in the band's arrangement of "Don't Give Up."  Individual voices joining together, musical gifts creating a foundation with unexpected bursts beauty, solos, duets and choral singing interspersed with guitar, bass, piano and conga.  Jazz, rock, gospel mixed with breath-taking tension and release for me as the song moves from minor into major modes combined with a whole lot of improvisation, too.

Thank you for your words of encouragement - and tenderness - now it is on to the party!  Friends from Arizona arrive today and tomorrow; we'll venture to one of our daughter's farm tomorrow for mezze and then regroup at church on Saturday night for the "roast."  Then we'll sing and celebrate and share stories of faith, hope and love on Sunday.  I wish Peter and Joyce were here (but they'll be close in my heart.) Laissez les festivies commencer!

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