Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's a lot to take in.

Andrew didn't grow up in the church. Saying grace, scenes in stained glass, Bible stories and liturgy are all converging to form a new language he is learning each week at St. John's.

Andrew wandered into St. John's because his girlfriend was planning her grandmother's funeral. In death, he heard the truth about life and started asking questions about what we believe and what it all means.

Watching Andrew worship is worshipful. His joyful curiosity is contagious and you can see the radical message that seems familiar to many washing over him with power and mystery. I stand in the pulpit telling people that God knows all of who they are - the good, the bad and the ugly - and desperately loves us anyway. I say it to a lot of people who have heard it a million times. They look at me and listen as quiet transformation trembles. Andrew looks at me like this is the best news he's heard all week and it's performing all kinds of demolition and reconstruction in his heart and mind. He looks at me like it's a brand new promise and he might actually tell someone about it.

He's been attending Casserole Club and brings all kinds of unabashed wisdom to our conversation, noticing the little things about scripture I've failed to recognize as awesome or the things I've never noticed at all. Instead of clamming up because he's new to the language, he speaks with confidence that the gospel is for him to receive, digest and share.

Andrew came to my office on Friday afternoon so we could talk about his baptism. This will be the first adult baptism I've seen at St. John's and I can't wait. His questions were wonderful. We talked about the service, the theology and all the beautiful promises. And every now and then he would lean back in his chair and pause before saying, "I'm sorry. It's a lot to take in." His slight smile was proof that this was all very, very good news.

When we finished, I could tell that he was still wonderfully overwhelmed. So I said, "You don't have to be able to wrap your head around this before your baptism. This theology - this good news about God's gift of new life and salvation and forgiveness in Christ - will continue to unfold in all kinds of bold and subtle ways to come. You'll learn something new about God's love every day and now you're part of a community that wants to wonder about all this stuff together with you."

This morning Andrew wore a robe and sang in the choir. I watched him pass the peace and could see that he really believed God's peace was getting passed from saint to saint. And that, too, is a lot to take in.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Control the Controllables

This is my view. From my perspective, I no longer have toes. My belly is 38" around, mostly in front, but I'm sure my addiction to ice cream drumsticks will eventually settle in wherever it likes. I'm technically in the beginning of my third trimester now, but still confused about how 'they' divide that up. The first is 12 weeks, the second is 13 weeks and the third is 15 weeks?

I've also felt pretty invincible lately. I've been able to work long days, don't need naps and haven't had to pay for stretching myself. We had a nasty storm last week and I chased our patio umbrella around the yard before wrestling it into the garage. That was dumb, but I felt fine.

This week, things are a little different. We had two funerals and Reformation Sunday was also our stewardship celebration. Friday was a long day of errands and phone calls and writing that had my whole torso tense and shaking. My body was begging me to slow down and put my feet up, but I couldn't. I thought I'd been doing a good job finding a new pace, but I hadn't really been challenged yet. Friday was spent trying to do everything and doing a really mediocre, dissatisfying job as I checked each item of the list.

I didn't sleep well on Friday night, caught between the things I think I'm capable of and what I can actually handle. As I put on my alb before the funeral service on Saturday morning and tied my cincture, I looked down. Suddenly, my body spoke volumes, convicting me of a pace I couldn't keep and calling me to readjust my expectations. My bump was literally in the way of my feet and my speed. I sat down for a few minutes and took deep breaths, trying to look at the service and the day ahead in new ways.

It is good to serve in a place filled with people who really know and look out for each other. I received words of grace and "go home" from several of our funeral reception volunteers. They keep an eye on me like I keep an eye on them. And while there was plenty to do to prepare for our stewardship celebration the next day, I decided to leave everything in my office. It would get done. Things would go well. And if they didn't, it wouldn't be because of the things I'd put down. The controllables were checked off the list and it was time to let go.

These last 14 weeks - or however many I have before Baby C debuts - will be a big stretch for me. Yes, literally. But also emotionally and professionally. I like doing things my way. I like letting my feet lead. I like being the last one out of the building. But this belly is giving me new perspective, teaching me to look around my office before I go home and choosing to put the things down I don't really need until tomorrow. It's teaching me to make fewer trips up to the sanctuary for service preparation. It's teaching me to not carry all of my groceries at once from the car to the house.

I'm growing.