I still can’t get over these balloons.
Right now in my house, I have purple balloons and flowers, and each time I see them I smile. Some people did a really nice thing for me a few days ago. I’ve been leading worship services at a particular church while they wait for their interim pastor to begin. I was with them two times in the fall, and I’ve been there five times over the last two of months.
So, just seven times.
But when they got word (and not from me) that it was the fifth anniversary of my ordination (to be fair, that’s not really a huge number. . . not like the 20th anniversary or something) they had a surprise reception for me! So kind and thoughtful.
Yesterday, I saw these balloons again, and it reminded me of something. Many people associate church with some of its worst behavior. And by the way, I absolutely do not blame people for this… I will tell you honestly, as someone who has been a pastoral leader for 9 years (not just the 5 ordained ones) I have had a front row seat to some of the very best and the very worst of church.
I haven’t given up on it entirely, mostly because I still believe in the vision behind it. And along with others, I do want to participate in the reform of how it functions, which in part, involves getting back to that better vision.
I’m certainly not the sole arbiter of understanding that larger vision, but I do believe this: The Church would come alive – I am talking about something much larger and richer than having more people in the doors – if the community would take purposeful care and intention to celebrate people’s Belovedness.
Not just the pastoral leader, who now has balloons. But everyone.
Can you imagine what would happen if people began to associate church communities with the discovery that they are absolutely, thoroughly loved? Perhaps even learning it through joyful surprise? Because they were in the presence of a community that could not even be itself without mirroring that truth to each other? Because it’s foundational to who they are together?
Yes, more of that!
The church who threw me a reception is New Life Presbyterian Church in Sterling Heights, Michigan. I’m grateful for them!