A sweet reprieve for an old grouch...

So you know how I've been carping on about being a grouchy old man? Well, today three things happened in worship that just kicked me in the pants and said: all that may be true, man, but get over it 'cuz blessings abound, too. (So while my hunt for a grief counselor continues) today I am sufficiently humbled to be able to laugh for joy.  
We set in motion today a "bury the Alleluia" ritual during worship as a prelude to Lent.  There were two very articulate young teens as liturgists and a whole cadre of helpers to take down the massive "Hallelujah" banner. But before any of that started, during choir practice one of my colleagues tells me that her grand-daughter just may turn out to be an evangelist.  I hadn't seen little Olivia in a long time but it seems that when a person on the street asked for the time, this young one asked:  "Why? Are you on your way to church? You should come to my church." And apparently he did - and had a blast.

Next I had the privilege to welcome in six new adult members and four young
people.  It was such a joy to see this crowd standing before the congregation. My message had been about Lent being a way of "making room" - making room for prayer, making room for quiet, making room for forgiveness and making room for acts of compassion - so it was only natural that we welcomed in new members today as yet another act of making room. One of my band mates, a long time church leader, whispered: This is such an uplifting sight to see the average age of the congregation getting younger. It was just seven years ago that they were saying we should close up shop.

And then my little buddies helped me take down the banner - and all sorts of sweet and chaotic grace broke out.  There were children underneath the huge banner trying to hold it up, there were teens taking down the Epiphany decorations and banding things into the microphones and then giggling beyond control and there was a feeling that while things don't always look pretty they are often filled with love. So as the whole crew processed up to share Eucharist it felt like a parade and a party in the presence of Jesus.

After worship, we practiced Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" with about 14 children - and then they raced into the refreshment hour where my buddy Shepherd John had brought in his new orphan lamb. Seems momma gave birth to three little lambs but only had interest in two.  So John has been feeding this little guy by hand and brought him in to share with the children. It was pure bliss.  

So dig these photos from the festivities... I am truly grateful.

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