.... well, not quite ALL of them.
But, if your church is filled with balloons as well as people, and if you decided to have just one Sunday service instead of two this morning, it seems like it.
It was the day commonly known as "Rally Sunday" this morning. Usually we go back to our fall schedule this morning, with two services and the beginning of Sunday School. But there was just one service at 10:00 this morning, and Sunday School won't officially begin until next week. After the service we had an all-church cookout, with burgers, hot dogs and chicken breast burgers for everyone who decided to stay. There was also one of those 'bounce rooms' for the kids.
The theme of the day was "Faith Formation Begins in the home." Though it is rare to do so, we changed the readings for this morning to three short ones: Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (read by a 5-year-old), Psalm 1 (Read by a 7th Grader), and 1 Timothy 1:3-5 (read by a 6th grader). The gospel reading provided a moment of suspense, as two small boys were assigned to read the short passage about Jesus blessing the children. I didn't see anyone at the Lectern, so I started my approach. I was a little concerned when I didn't see the reading, or a Bible to read from. At the same time, a little girl ran up to me with a printed copy of the gospel reading, and two little boys slowly approached the chancel. They received the mike and began to read. The older of the two began, and he gave the mike to his little brother, so that he could recite the words, "let the little children come to me."
I could tell the the older boy was whispering the words into his brother's ear.
That was the highlight of the morning for me.
That, and seeing a woman return after many months away. She had been living somewhat north of us, and recently moved back to our community.
And yes, seeing children I haven't seen all summer: that was a highlight. Watching the interaction between young people and older people, many of whom rarely have the opportunity to worship together -- that was a highlight too.
One of our confirmation students, a young woman with a beautiful voice, sang the Kyrie this morning. Six of our youth said the prayers of the people.
Those were highlights too.
They were signs of the gifts of the generations among us, all the gifts that we have and that we need to be the body of Christ for each other, and for the world.
It's true, communion took a long time, and some people thought we should have done one or two things differently, and the sticky notes I had put all over myself for the children's sermon didn't stick so well. It's true that there were a couple of small glitches (and one person thought I shouldn't have worn the chasuble), but it was the day that all of the people came back to church.
Well, not all of the people, not really, there are always a few people absent. I forget about that at first, because of the joy of the people I see, and the joy of saying "the Lord be with you" and hearing the great reply, "And also with you."
But later, I think of people who were absent. Some people are absent because they just had other plans today. Others have died, and I miss their voices and their faces and their songs. Still others -- I don't know why they aren't here, but I miss them, and wish they were here.
Some day there will be an even greater reunion, and all of the people will come back, not to church, but they will worship around the throne of the Lamb. Someday the song will be so beautiful that no one will be able to resist it. Someday the song will be so beautiful that the dead will be raised, and evil will die.
In the meantime, today I heard two little boys whisper in each other's ears, a young girl sing "In Peace, Let us pray to the Lord," six children say, "Lord, in your mercy... hear our prayer." Today I saw many faces, some familiar, others strangers. We ate together.
A foretaste of the feast to come.