The strange and wonderful connections we make during worship...

A good time was had by all today (or at least most) as we held a conversation in worship about "meeting God at table with Jesus." Our story was from Luke 7 - the woman from the city who weeps on Christ's feet and anoints them with perfumed oil - and most of us reached the same conclusion: if we have been loved and forgiven by a generous and grace-filled God, maybe the time has come for us to respond by "kicking up our game a bit and sharing a little more joy with the world!" Three particularly unique responses to worship are worth noting here:

+ One of my band mates said, "Maybe you'll think this is crazy but you need to sing 'Soul Man' because that's what you are!"  I love the idea - and the song - so we'll give it a shot soon. (Here's a version with the Boss and Mr. Sam Moore, the ORIGINAL Soul Man of Sam and Dave fame...)

+ A woman who looked distressed greeted me after worship standing in front of our name tag board. Without any invitation she pointed to the board and barked, "My name isn't there." I nodded - having never met her before - and asked, "Have you worshiped with us any time in the seven years I've been pastor?" to which she looked offended and replied, "No, not at all!" as if that was an entirely adequate response. All I could do was smile, shake my head and note, "Well... there you go." (NOTE:  I will be happy to make a name tag for her if she ever returns.)

+ A young woman told me quietly: "I wasn't feeling good at all when I got here, but now things feel better. All I can say is that I am glad I came." She's been through a LOT of hard times, so I am glad she came, too. Worship ought to give us a clue that God's grace is a healing alternative to our fears and shame and I think that happened this morning. 
Our current worship series, "Meeting God at Table with Jesus" has been a gentle and informal conversation about how God comes to us in different ways. Two weeks ago we talked about the presence of the Lord in strangers; today we realized God's gift in forgiveness. And next week we'll consider how God touches us when the forgotten are remembered with affection. (NOTE: other themes include experiencing the heart of God (Luke 14: 15-24), living into God's Spirit at the Eucharist (Luke 22: 7-23), breaking down divisions (Acts 10: 1-18) and finding God in one another (Acts 2: 41-47)

Next week, I will invite everyone in worship to gather with me around the communion table in the Chancel - we'll move seats in so that all of worship will take place up close and personal - and then actually share some of the food that might have graced one of the tables of Jesus. I've purchased Syrian cheese and pita bread for next week - stuffed grape leaves and tea for another - as well as halavah, olives and humus for the weeks to come. It should be a gas as we move towards Pentecost and the festival of the Holy Spirit.
One more story that was told to me after worship.  A couple has joined us for worship over the past two weeks; she is in a wheelchair and he is not. Both Sundays I invited everyone into the Chancel for Eucharist - and they came forward, too. Our Sanctuary, however is only partially accessible for all so they had to remain near the steps. Today people told me about two thing I saw as we moved to the Chancel.  First, some folks moved back down the steps to envelope this new couple in the worship circle; and second, some one else found a chair for one of our elders who is more comfortable sitting. No words were spoken, no prompts were offered. But people were paying attention and finding ways to make certain everyone had a place in the circle around Christ's table. Thanks be to God.


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