ramblings for a late sunday afternoon ...

As noted elsewhere, I love being the celebrant at the St. Francis "Blessing of Pets" liturgy: it is laid back, gentle, open to the Spirit and just a ton of fun. This year in addition to the wonderful dogs who joined in the feast, there were pictures of cats, hamsters and fish. As I said to Di at the grocery store after worship, "I love leaving church with a sense of God's gentle grace instead of the anxiety I sometimes feel because of carping - or my insecurities - or people who can't seem to wake up. Today was just... right." The music was right, the hymns were right, the celebration of Eucharist was right, the animals were right and the gathered faithful felt right as we opened our hearts to God for a day of blessings.

After worship, a number of people hung around afterwards to help our volunteers count the donations our CROP Walk Team gathered yesterday on Park Square. For the past three years, a small group of volunteers gives up the better part of a Saturday to stand at the red light in the center of town and invite contributions to go to Church World Services development and hunger programs. Over the past two weeks, John and Lauryn (and their angel helpers) have secured $2,941 from our friends and neighbors. There are three more weekends, too before the event on Sunday, October 23, 2016. Our goal is $6,000.  (NOTE:  If you are intetested in helping our team reach this goal, please go to the secure Church World Service CROP Walk Website and make a donation on-line @ https://www.crophungerwalk. org/pittsfieldma /Team/View/25526/First-Church-of-Christ-Pittsfield)
Before we left church, two other things took place that made my heart sing: a number of our folk have taken on sharing the responsibility of helping a woman who is not a member of our faith community (or even our spiritual tradition) get the transportation and food needed in her post-surgery transition. I found out that one faithful old soul sat with her for hours last week in pre-op. Others have made themselves available throughout the coming weeks to make certain she eats well and gets to medical appointments. I was moved and touched by the authentic  generosity of people whose lives are full to overflowing finding ways to go the extra mile. 

Then, as I was getting out of my worship gear, Di stepped into my study and said another couple had made a donation to our Kentucky sojourn: there were four $100 bills in an envelope. That brings to nearly $800 the gifts our people have shared with us to help us get to the wedding ceremony of a young woman who was part of our church in Tucson. She has been through ups and downs without a lot of support from parts of her family since coming out. When she asked if I would celebrate her wedding as officiant, without batting an eye I said, "Yes!" And now our people have come forward to help us fund it - including putting our wacky dog in the kennel so we can be away. These are the days I need to remember when other stuff is too lively, yes?  I am so very, very grateful.

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