Sunday, April 22, was a day with a powerful 1-2-3 punch for members and friends at Webster Hills UMC, including those regular readers of this column who understand themselves to be experience ‘Mid-Life and Beyond.’
No. 2 on that list of three was the Sunday afternoon ‘meal packing event’ that crammed the CLC gym with hairnet-wearing persons of all ages doing hands on mission. Our Easter offering purchased food and packaging materials for hundreds and folks came in droves to measure, package, seal and wrap meals to be picked up by local feeding programs the following week. Imagine assembly lines of kids, parents and grandparents; music to sing along to; and ice cream to share when the work was done.
And No. 3 was an amazingly beautiful evening concert that filled our beautiful sanctuary space with the music of the Webster University orchestra and the 442s. Breathtaking.
Surely it was No. 1 that laid the foundation for the day: worship services at 9 am and 10:30 am that helped attendees with the important inner work of spiritual assessment. Important work – yes, but burdensome? Far from it. After spending a few minutes completing and scoring a brief survey, worshipers were invited to move in the worship space for conversation and sharing with others who identified in themselves the same spiritual gifts, gifts including but not limited to giving, administration, teaching, exhortation, mercy, prophecy, serving, hospitality, and leadership. I love that lovely buzz in the congregation when folks engage one another like this!
During Sanctuary worship at 10:30, Pastor Linda asked me to be alert to seeking out conversation with folks who chose to remain in the pews instead of moving to an appointed spot relative to ‘their’ spiritual gift. So I moved around the Sanctuary a little, doing that, and the conversations I had were instructive and moving. One congregant spoke to me of pain, and how its presence in one’s life opens one to empathy for others who are also in pain. This conversation suggested to me that a person who has known pain may be uniquely gifted to be present to others who are in pain.
I went on to wonder whether pain might be, in some circumstances, considered itself a spiritual gift; while never a blessing to the one who suffers it, pain may be turned – transformed – even resurrected — in faith and by faith, to bless those who can talk about it and pray about it together.
It’s a life rich in spirit and faith we’re making together here in community at WHUMC, whatever our age or stage in life.
Thanks be to God. See you in church.