So my invitation from the Lord this morning was: 1) give thanks to God for the very gift of life; 2) invite us all to trust the Lord more than we trust ourselves, our fears, our skills, our sins or our wealth; 3) lead the people through an intentional time of reflection, silence, prayer and song; and 4) encourage and challenge the gathered to let God's grace guide our hearts and minds even as we wait; and 5) celebrate Eucharist. Someone said that most of a faithful life is spent in either waiting or service. That seems about right to me, too.
Often, when it comes to annual meeting Sundays, it is easy to lose perspective. Sometimes we focus on our joys and all the things that are going well; at other times we are obsessed with our concerns and all those things that are frustrating; and at still other times the heart of a meeting can be hijacked by whatever is most perplexing. I have sensed our congregation's anxiety about financial matters for the past few weeks. So I have also spent a number of mostly sleepless night waiting on the Lord for a sense of how I might respond. to this anxiety. Last night was not a whole lot different from others in the recent past.
Perhaps that is why I threw myself into this morning's instrumental "gathering music." My colleague, Carlton, arranged "Deep Within" by David Haas as first a straight ahead instrumental and then as a jazz chart. It is a beautiful and haunting song that speaks to my soul. And as I let it embrace me, I sensed my tiredness and worry lifting. Mostly, I was simply able to invite the people to trust the Lord. And for the few who gathered this morning - the cold, the flu, work and vacations reduced our community significantly - you could feel their fear lift and we risked being open to God's presence.
We collected over 500 cans of tuna to supplement our local food bank after their shelves were emptied on Thursday. We opened our fearful hearts to God's grace. I met with our ecumenical youth group for a new season of conversation and support. And as we wrestled with the hard questions of being the Body of Christ at this moment of time, we listened and prayed before speaking. It was a simple and humble day of thanksgiving. And while we didn't solve most of our problems, nor come up with any new insights, we did trust that testimony of that great cloud of witnesses for a time - and that is really all we can do anyhow.
The weather forecast for these parts predicts another two feet of snow by this time tomorrow night. So, let me give thanks to God for this day and hunker down for another unexpected time of retreat and quiet reflection.
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