It was another churchy day. Soup and Sermon at lunch, our ministerial association's ecumenical Lenten event. We rotate the ladling and the preaching, the Catholics host. C preached on Ezekiel and the dry bones. There was audience participation in the rattling of bones and the breath of God. It was a good sermon that made me cry. I was happy to be sitting alone with my soup at that point. Some things you really don't want to have to explain to the members of the Red Hat Club. Then tonight was my Wednesday night with the Presbyterians again. We continued last week's theme of prayer for those who can't sit still with activity stations engaging people in different kinds of prayer activities. I reprised journaling again, while C and some of the other Soul Sisters led dance, labyrinth and art groups. My journaling group was very sweet, a mom who had "never done this before" and two tweens who were quite expert at it. One told me she had been at it since age five when she began doing spiritual journaling at her old church! I read a short reading from Henri Nouwen on prayer, then we wrote while listening to some gorgeous piano music. After we finished we talked about writing, our experiences with it and how it helped us come to God. The theme of the Nouwen reading was having God be our "first resort" instead of our last. (A point well taken in this time when I purport to be trusting and submitting.) The whole group then reassembled and we shared with someone from another "experience" about our time and what it had meant for us.
I am so delighting in my second church family. I'm amazed at how easy it is to be there and how they have taken me in, the inside outsider. A stranger, another pastor no less, from down the street who keeps turning up in their church. I'm learning more about them as a group as well as getting to know individuals as I'm hanging out there in this Lent. I'm finding out more about dark places in their history, some of the pain that they carry, wounds from the past that are still not fully healed, just as we have in my own church. It's amazing the things we do to each other in these places...but what is even more amazing is that we are all still here carrying on. Clearly it's all so much bigger than any of us. God is in these churches just as much as in our own lives, moving among and amidst us, rattling our dry bones and breathing into us, sometimes against our protests, to move us and shake us and bring us to new life. And that is a good thing indeed as we move another week closer to Easter.