Sunday, January 18, 2009

Towanda Prays In The Dark

Tonight I got done setting up for our church gathering a bit early, so I wandered upstairs to see how the renovations at HappyChurch are going. I like to check in on their progress every week if I have time, and helps me feel connected to them.

It's getting on towards two years since I discovered HappyChurch. Kind of hard to believe. My first sermon was Palm Sunday, 2007, and then I did the 4-month interim while their pastor was on sabbatical, and then I did my field ed. internship with them, and then once my own new church started meeting last June (in HappyChurch's basement for free), I still have kept coming once a month, on the 4th Sunday, contributing to worship leadership and preaching occasionally.

When I walked into the sanctuary tonight, I suddenly felt moved to sit down in a pew, and just be still. So I did. I thought about the first day I came "to the office" as interim, after the pastor had gone, and it was just me. I was alone in the church, and I wandered around getting my bearings, figuring out the space and how to feel in it. I came into the sanctuary and felt a little overwhelmed, suddenly, by what seemed like a huge and sudden responsibility. So I knelt on the steps leading up to the dais (which aren't there anymore with the renovation) and prayed that I would do a good job, and that everything would be ok.

Which it was. It was HappyChurch that helped me believe that I could be a pastor. They didn't freak out when I got arrested. They've supported this vision for this base community, egalitarian model, liberationist, bilingual church from the beginning. I'm blessed to have found them.

Sitting there, I began to pray, and cry a little. I feel very thankful, and aware that big things are underway, and soon. Tomorrow we should find out if we'll get the space in Aurora, which we've been praying about for months. Tomorrow we'll finalize the partnership agreement and call letter between HappyChurch and my church and me...which means ordination is that much closer.

There are times when all of this is so frightening, when I have no idea if what I'm doing is the right thing, what God would have me do. I've struggled with not having a good metaphor/image to hold on to to keep me going.

So I was praying, really just saying "thank you" and "I hope I'm doing the right thing." I tried to meditate on the image of St. Francis building the church that my spiritual director suggested. Brick by brick. Create the space. They'll come.

I made myself giggle a bit when I realized that I'm pastoring the "field of dreams" church...if you build it, they will come. Of course, when Ray first starts building the field, no one is there, it's just a voice urging him on...but then little by little....

(I should add, we have a core group of folks, who find it very hard to come on Sunday sometimes no one's there but me and my cielo. The move to Aurora should change that, since we'll be able to meet on Sunday mornings. Had two new folks come to our info meeting tonight.)

The field of dreams church. Well, makes sense considering how much I love baseball, no?

Anyway, in my praying/meditating/whatever, I began to think about my little boat and paddle, why that image was not working for me, seemed to have disappeared from helpfulness. Then suddenly, there it was. Me and my paddle and Jesus. On the water, in the dark, no moon.

That's what it is right now. In the dark, no moon. No way to tell what's coming. Going forward (as far as we can tell...after all it's dark) anyway.

Back in the spring when I was shooting the class-five rapids, it was bright daylight. Then after graduation, Jesus made me get out of the boat and sit on the bank under the trees. It was dusk/dark, and he cooked fish over the fire, and gave it to me to eat, and told me to rest. I spent some time laying back in the leaves watching the starry sky.

I'm not sure when I got back in the boat, but I think I didn't realize it because I kept trying to imagine it in daylight. But it's not.

On the water, in the dark, no moon. It's not class-five rapids, but I can't tell where we going, no way to know if there's disaster ahead, or glory.

As I prayed, it was clear: Jesus is still in the back of the boat. Keep paddling. Yes, it's scary, but keep going anyway. And it's ok to go slowly.

And I realized, no moon means it's a new things, new creation. And, no moon means new moon and she'll come back out full again.

Praying there in the dark, in this sweet little sanctuary of this sweet little church, I felt more centered than I have in many weeks.

Me and my paddle and Jesus. Building the field of dreams.

OK, it's mixed metaphor, but whatever works, right?

Peace, y'all --