Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I witnessed a great joy this summer! I felt this joy on the last Sunday in July, on the grounds of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Farmingville, NY.
The day started out grey and bleak. The skies were laden with dark clouds and there was a light drizzle. It appeared that rain was going to spoil the plans of an outdoor worship service followed by a barbecue and activities. In spite of this, teams of church members and friends began to transform the front yard of the church. In one corner some people were setting up the barbecue and food, along the driveway others were digging holes for posts that would define the game areas and in the center, another team was putting up a tent and setting up tables and chairs. Meanwhile, others were moving out items for the church for worship purposes and all was going well. The member who had the vision to vamp up the Christmas in July event and invite the community sat in the midst of the lawn and just watched. He was pleased at how well everyone was working together to get everything set up. It was a joy to watch.
The worship and picnic went well. The drizzle stopped around the time worship began. Moreover, the sun came out just as we were starting to cleanup. We were grateful for the clouds because they kept the temperature cool, which added to the enjoyment of the day. My husband believes that there were 63 adults and children present. It was a good day!
However, there was another joy that day that came with a great surprise, for not only was the church yard transformed but the Parish Hall, as well. In the afternoon, some members offered a tour of our buildings for the guests present. After going through the church main building, the tour headed to the Parish Hall. A few weeks ago, I had gone over there to take pictures for the website. My pictures showed a blank canvas waiting for someone to use in a special way. That afternoon a family had rented the space for a baby shower and they were in the process of decorating it as we walked in. We could not believe our eyes; the decorator had transformed the room in a way that I had not seen before. It was amazing!
When we look at the before and after pictures, we have to think that if human beings could make such a difference, have such imaginations and creativity, imagine what God can do in and around us to transform the world! In many ways, the church is a blank canvas, on which God is longing to use his imagination and creativity to transform the world and we could be part of that plan.
Sydney Carter, who wrote the hymn “The Lord of the Dance,” proposed that we could live our Christian lives in one of three ways: inertly, reluctantly or freely. Our lives can be inert, uninspired, a passive going through the motions with no thought or choice of our own that thrusts us forward. Or we can make the choice to be willing and engaged participants and dance with the stars.”
On the last Sunday in July, we experienced what it might feel like to be willing participants in the plans of God to transform our world. We experienced the possibilities, of what can happen when we focus ourselves and work together for the common good. May we continue to dance and move to the new things that God is doing in and around us! Moreover,may we continue to imagine the limitless possibilities!
I thank God for you,
Pastor Kathy Nealand