One of the most profound experiences I’ve had here, since we started focusing on community, was something that wasn’t specifically planned as part of our exploration of that theme. It was a regular Sunday morning worship service in March. Maybe you were there… A few weeks prior, Cynthia Parker told me that the women she teaches in the Rainbow Class – FBC’s class for adults who have differing developmental abilities – wanted to lead the worship service. Read scripture, say prayers, play the offertory. We found a date and worked with the women to prepare. Cindy Miller rehearsed the song she wanted to play on the piano. Kristy Blaha worked hard to craft a gathering prayer that was thankful, welcoming, and spirited. We all practiced the Lord’s Prayer together.
Before the service began, Amelia Bierly, who was running sound, asked if she should cut the microphone when Kristy began the Lord’s Prayer. We often do that, because the congregational rhythm takes over, and there’s not a need for one voice to dominate during that time. But Amelia and I both knew that Kristy’s rhythm would be different than the congregation’s. She’s one of the voices that always trails behind, echoing the last few words of any song or prayer after the rest of us have finished. We decided to leave the microphone on, knowing we were taking a risk, knowing that moment that should be meditative might descend into a mess of garbled, competing cadences.
But it didn’t. A few words at the beginning tumbled over each other, but the congregation soon heard what was happening, and without any instruction, everyone adjusted. People paused, learned where Kristy was in the prayer, and slowed down their speaking to match hers. It was purposefully unhurried; it was deliberately unison. I heard that old prayer in a new way that morning – not only in the words, but in the time it took us to say them, in Kristy’s courageous leading of us all and in our willingness to allow a different rhythm.
Last Lent, we worked though Kent Annan’s book, Slow Kingdom Coming. The basic premise is that this work that the church is about – this work of justice, and peace, and inclusion without qualification – is a process that we commit to for the long haul, and only occasionally do we see the beauty and the hope birthed from that commitment. But that Sunday, when we finally came around to saying “…and the glory forever, amen,” I was sure I had heard a bit of God’s kin-dom, right here, spoken into being by our painstakingly slow recitation of those words, our paying attention so that we all might arrive at the end together. What a gift to be church with all of you.