This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, March 8, 2019
This week I’ve added a couple new things to the daily roster, as part of the Lenten season. I’ll wait until Sunday to say more about one, and another I’m sure I’ll rave about at some later date in the journey (think Mary Oliver’s poetry, Scripture, and the transformative power of language), but for now I want to say how grateful I am for the piece we began together, on Ash Wednesday.
In most ways, the service wasn’t much different than our usual. Marking the beginning of Lent, and inviting all to dwell in God’s mercy, it was another cherished moment in the sacred space we call sanctuary. The primary difference this year, however, was the shared leadership and presence of more than ‘us’. Gathered at the front with Scott and our colleague, The Rev. Anita Spiller, I was able to look across the pews and see folks from Trinity, Beamsville alongside those of our neighbours – specifically, Vineland and Jordan Station United Churches, where Anita serves. I’m so grateful they accepted the invitation to be here that night. I’m so grateful Anita suggested it.
There was not an ounce of fanfare in the shared service, but I suppose there could have been. Much as it sounds like an easy thing to do, there can be lots of considerations and/or consternations in drawing together unique groups of people. For all that we share, each of our church families has their own nuance and customs, and worship practices can be difficult to alter. I don’t think God’s people intend to be stubborn. I think we (all of us, we) can get caught up in what we know and where we find comfort, and so there is a natural reluctance to entertain anything or anyone ‘different’. While knowledge and comfort are both good treasures to hold, when held too tightly, they can inadvertently hold us back from experiencing anything or anyone more.
Our drawing together in a combined service was simply to do just that: to draw together; to be together; and, to be perfectly blunt, to bolster numbers in a service with traditionally much lower attendance. All of the above was achieved, in my estimation, but along the way, I hope and I pray that it offered more. I hope and I pray it stirred a longing to gather together more often. I hope and I pray we noticed the gift that comes from paying closer attention to those in our midst. May we have been more keenly attuned to each other, knowing that we don’t know each other’s ways as well as we might. May we have been more sharply and gently aware of sharing time and space that we do not usually. May we carry all that attuning, that awareness, out into a community and world that may not understand what we were up to with the ashes of last year’s palms, but still desperately needs us to be transformed by the experience.
Such is our Lenten journey. Such is the need to say welcome, for the first time or all over again, to this life-changing, life-giving, faith-growing experience.
With love to you all,
“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
(Mary Oliver, “Sometimes”, Devotions, p. 104)