I have been here almost a year, someone reminded me today, which felt a little to me like chiding. It felt a little like, "You have been here almost a year; why isn't everything different by now?" But that might be just me.
Last year at this time I was deciding whether to come; I was praying about whether this was a call from God. Was God calling me to leave my home in Minnesota and travel south to this congregation called Grace?
Now, I am here. This morning I had a baptism at the early service, and two young people receiving their first communion at the late service, and the time between and the time after was full as well. And there are a few things I want to remember from this full morning.
I want to remember the young family sitting in the front pew, with their just-turned-three year old son on the floor, and their baby boy in their arms. The three year old had spilled his cup full of cereal, and at the beginning of the service he was gathering up the fragments, in earnest. I want to remember how the little boy whispered a little during the service, and how I loved to hear it; I didn't mind at all. I want to remember the baby's cry when I poured the water over his head, but how he smiled afterwards, and loved to be cooed over by the members of the congregation. And I want to remember how his big brother folded his hands and said the Lord's Prayer with all of the other members of the congregation.
After the service there was a Question and Answer time with regarding to our church council's one year plan. There were no softball questions, like last year when I was here for a dinner and a Meet and Greet last year, and people asked me questions about my husband and my dog and "How would I like to go on a mission trip to Peru?" This year the questions were good but hard, about our specific goals and how we could communicate better about both mission and building goals. This year someone asked why the plan was only for a year, and that other person reminded everyone that I had already been here "almost a year."
It is true that I have not tried very many new things yet; we have made a couple of small, tentative steps toward Cross Generational Ministry; we are moving forward with a possible new music director; I have tried just a few small things in worship. I have been here almost a year.
At the second service we had two young people receiving their first communion. I want to remember how the two families were sitting in the front rows, nervous and smiling. I want to remember how the children came up for the children's message, and afterwards shared cards and high fives with everyone in church, telling them that "Jesus loves you!" I want to remember "Lord, I lift your name on high" and I want to remember the small cups of wine, created by the communion students, and how their families stood behind them when they received the bread and wine for the first time.
Last year at this time, I didn't know them.
After the second service, we had a meeting for Children Youth and Family planning. We munched sandwiches and shared highs and lows and prayed for each other. We said "Jesus loves you" with high fives, and we started to plan what our church's Vacation Bible School for all ages would look like. Some people were in charge of crafts. Some people were in charge of food. Some were in charge of clean up.
Half of the people in the room for that meeting today were new.