Becoming the Church
A fascinating observation was made at our deacon and church council meeting this past Sunday: Julie Long had been our oldest worship leader that morning.
Of all the people who stood behind the pulpit or otherwise led, from the Scripture reader, to the deacon of the week, to the choir directors, to the deacon chair helping serve communion, to the associate pastor to the pastor, this past Sunday almost certainly featured the youngest combined worship leadership in our church’s 190+ year history.
And of all this people, only two were men! The rest were women, and young women at that (we’ll all agree that Julie is still quite young).
But perhaps the most telling thing of all is that I suspect few of you even noticed.
This says something remarkable and important about our church. It says that this a place and we are a people who believe deeply that the Holy Spirit has the capacity to move in any and all people. Or to put it another way, that anyone and everyone has the capacity to be a vessel for this Spirit. Young and old, men, women and children—all carry within them the potential to be a vessel of divine goodness, mercy, compassion and love.
It’s this conviction that God is bigger than us and any lines we would draw around ourselves or others that prepares us to be led in the worship by so many whom tradition might question.
But this doesn’t happen over night. It is a conviction that’s been nurtured and expanded and passed down with intentionality through the years, and must continue to be.
The collection of people who led us in worship on Sunday would have been thought unacceptable in this very church just a generation ago. Stop and consider that for a moment.
Many other houses of worship here in Macon would consider them unacceptable today. And yet here we are, being spiritually fed and brought into the presence of God anyway. Reminded, every so subtly, that God is always bigger than our capacity to understand God. That the Spirit moves as it will, in places and through people we would least expect, and sometimes despite our best intentions. And yet through all of this, the church remains the church. Or better yet: the church becomes the church.
Thanks be to God.