It doesn't happen often, but some weekends here at South Main we hold a memorial service on Friday afternoon and a wedding ceremony the following day, on Saturday evening. In the span of just a few hours?within the very same space, between the cinematic beauty of our Sanctuary's stained glass windows?our church becomes first a place of quiet, faithful fellowship mixed with the poignant sorrow of painful separation, and then a buoyant, exhilarating place of overwhelming happiness and new unity.
These days are always remarkable personal experiences for me. And whenever they come along, I?m reminded that such weekends are a sort of concentrated version of the lives we all live?lives in which we encounter, sometimes in close proximity to one another, deep and enduring sadnesses, and supreme and ineffable joys. In such moments, it always strikes me: this is church. A place of worship that reflects both the realities of our lives and the aspirations we have for them. Indeed, life itself is like this. A powerful mix of emotions, and a little bit of everything.
A couple of weeks ago, as we prayed in worship on the Sunday commemorating All Saints Day, I found myself feeling this extraordinary range of emotions again. I stood next to the pulpit looking out to all of you. On my right, a full bouquet of red roses symbolizing those members in our congregation who passed away this past year. And on my left, a single yet powerfully meaningful white rose representing the birth of a baby, the newest addition to our winsome faith community. The old and the new. The lost and the found. Anguish and elation. A powerful mix of emotions, and a little bit of everything.
We are launching our new website now, and this particular space will, each week, be a place in which we, your ministers, as well as your fellow congregants on occasion, will share our lives and experiences, our thoughts about the past, and our ideas about the future?a sort of virtual, but perfectly real, place of authenticity and grace.
The old and the new. The lost and the found. Anguish and elation. A powerful mix of emotions, and a little bit of everything.
It will be a place where our faith and experience collide. A place where we challenge one another, sharpen one another, comfort one another, and celebrate with one another. It will be an extension of our worship, a new way to discover, and a new venue for us to share. One week, you might encounter a great story about what's going on in one of our ministries. The next week, we might pursue the angles and contours of a topic emerging from the life of our church or the culture around us which demands our urgent attention. It will be a place in which we create together in words and pictures an ongoing work?one that marks and plumbs the crucial moments of our lives, the ongoing work of our church, and the transcendent meaning of our times.
I think we are called on to create things like this?to put our experiences, the things of life we want to share, our feelings into words for others to experience and learn from as well. We are called to do this, for when we create and share, we are joining in the work of God who created and shared the world with us. We hope that you make visiting here to this place a part of your weekly routine such that it becomes a part of the rhythm of your life.
So as we initiate this narrative, as we start this timeline of words and pictures, of story and inspiration, let me inaugurate this corner of our new website with these words of blessing over this virtual space:
Between the moments of loss and the hope of healing,
between the pain of falling and rising anew,
may this be a middle place, a liminal space?
a place of deep breaths, of learning, creating and sharing, of belonging.
A place to rest in a widening grace and to become well again
in an awareness of what our life should be. What it could be.