"This might be the last time I take communion from you," someone said to me after worship on Sunday. It made my heart jump, a little.
"We will be gone the next two weeks, so maybe I should say good-bye today," said someone else.
I have three more Sundays in worship, and one of them is Memorial Day weekend. Everything seems to be moving very fast. Sometimes I want it to go faster, and sometimes I want it to slow down.
In the meantime, there was a baptism on Sunday. The baby was the child of a young woman I baptized, many years ago, when she was in eighth grade. It was my first year as a pastor in this congregation. I remember her well, how she was not self-conscious at all, but very poised and confident as she stood before the congregation at the late service that morning.
I remember the young woman who was her best friend, too. They are still best friends, and she was one of the godparents for her friend's baby. I saw them both there, and remembered that first year in confirmation class, the creative ideas I tried, some huge failures and others a modest success. I remembered the chaos, kids bouncing off the walls, including these two best friends.
That year, for part of the confirmation lesson on Easter, I decided to tell the story, "The Tale of Three Trees." I have always loved that story, and wanted to connect it with the Bible stories of the resurrection. Besides, I do believe that I am good at telling stories.
So, I began. And I thought that the confirmation students were listening, too. Then, sometime in the middle of the story, I saw these two girls, these two best friends. They were standing in the back of the crowded room, and they were swaying and doing hand motions. My heart sank. I thought that they were dis-respecting me. I just tried to ignore them and kept going.
Later on, I talked to our youth and family director, expressing disappointment. But, she had another view. She said she thought that they were listening, that they were in fact engaged, and that they were standing there, acting out the story.
Acting out the story.
On Sunday, four Sundays before my last Sunday here in this congregation, I am sitting in worship, and I am remembering back so many years ago. I am remembering a confirmation class, and best friends, and how they acted out the story. I am remembering a young woman who stood at the baptismal font, and who leaned over with great gravity and allowed me to pour water over her head. I am remembering every baptism, and I am remembering the confirmation students in their white robes and I am remembering those moments of chaos and clarity, the ways we have acted out the story.
And how this is the gift of worship, but also its challenge: will our worship leave space to act out the story of God, which is our story too, by the grace of our baptism?
On Sunday, after the baptism, I got to take the baby in my arms and walk her up and down the aisle while we sang a lullaby. And one thing I like to do is get the baby up really close to the people on the aisle, so that they can reach out and touch her if they want, or so that the baby can reach out and touch them too.
I can't help thinking that this is what we really want, what we really need, in worship: to act out the story, where the story of God touches us.
On Sunday, I remembered. I gave communion. I held a baby. I sang. I acted out the story.