Yes, I’ve already had my first day of school picture and worn my new dress. I’ve tried out my new computer/book bag; I’ve had my share of adjustment pains with changes in schedule and with getting to know new people and a new place. And I’ve dealt with the adjustment of sitting in classes for long stretches of time, something that my not-as-young-as-it-used-to-be body is not always so happy to do. I’ve figured out that I need one set of glasses for reading Hebrew “tittles and tots” correctly, and I’ve dealt with the humbling reality that learning a dead language is not nearly so easy as learning one you can practice by going to a cafe and ordering a coffee using that language. Oh yes, and most importantly, I have learned how to successfully juggle two hymnals and a prayer book AND to keep up with the service while flipping and sight-reading new music.
Not a bad August, I would say.
But nothing that I did all the month of August prepared me for yesterday: the real first day of school. Nothing prepared me for the amazing experience of worshiping in a room full of people there for the same, single purpose: to grow in faith and to follow the calling of their God. Nothing prepared me for the sound of voices raised in the Sanctus and the Alleluia and hymn after hymn. Nothing prepared me for the emotion of standing with so, so many as we re-affirmed our baptism by reading the Baptismal Covenant from the Book of Common Prayer. Yes, I missed hearing the familiar communion words, “This is not the table of Calvary Baptist Church, but the table of Jesus Christ our Lord, and all are welcome”, but I shared in the act of Communion even though I knew I did not see it as those around me did. I know by now that, even though we do not share technical theological beliefs about the act, we all see it as a moment in which God’s hospital is shared and expressed in our human lives (with or without a belief in consecration). And, I’m guessing that I do not even need to mention my reaction when the closing hymn was Great is Thy Faithfulness.
You see, nothing really can prepare you for those moments when worship is at its best: when worship makes space for God to show up. And, my friends, God was definitely with us yesterday.