Archive for the ‘Sunday Sermon’ Category
“Miss Wende? Can I sing you a song?”
She is five. It’s right before Sunday School is to begin. Due to a flood on the east side of the building, our classroom is engulfed in mildew– I’m frantically moving us up two flights of stairs for the duration. Who knows when we’ll be back in our classroom? God does. And he’s not clued me in, so I’m bracing for the long haul. Pencils? Check. Markers? Check. Paper? Check!
So, I’m a little distracted when she asks, but I have enough clarity to say, “Yes. Just as soon as I get back. I need to run and tell someone something before class begins. But when I get back you can sing me your song.”
And when I get back, she does just that. Our temporary classroom is an old chapel, so she stands in front of the altar and belts out the first verse and chorus of “Let it Go.” Her soft blond hair is coiled into tiny little buns on either side of her head: looking every bit Elsa, singing her heart out. I can tell she’s been practicing. She knows all the words and she’s nailed that little pause before, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
“Miss Wende? Can I sing that song in front of everyone?” I’m busy keeping 14 kids ages 5-17 focused, so I’m a little distracted. I’ve grown accustomed to the pandemonium. I thrive in it, like wild things thrive in bogs.
“What do you mean? In front of the adults downstairs?” She vigorously nods her head. My brain quickly reviews the lyrics and then agrees, “Yes. I’ll get you a mic after church. You can sing during coffee time.” And then we’re off and running. Today, we’re “blinging out” our temporary classroom. Home should feel like home, right?
I’m busy with the older kid table: because their posters need more supervision. The most inappropriate things the little kids tend to draw are superheroes. “No, no batman at church.” I’m certain the Dark Knight wouldn’t want to be hanging in a converted chapel now Sunday School classroom anyhow.
A tug on my sweater: “Miss Wende? My sister says me singing that song is embarrassing. Is it embarrassing?”
Siblings! Why, oh, why must they deflate each other? Most of my class is made up of siblings. And I watch it every week: one rises, soaring into the air like colorful balloons: aloft with some accomplishment. And then a sibling grabs a foot: the proverbial Jacob tugging at a heel. Back to the ground you must go. Half of my sermons are on God’s love. The other half, a stealthy attempt to encourage the bonds between brothers and sisters: convinced if that’s the only mark I make, then I’ve lived into my call.
“Sweets, the real question is, are YOU embarrassed to sing that song?” Again with the vigorous shaking of the head. “Then, there’s your answer. Here’s the thing: when you’re a performer, or any kind of artist, there will be critics. There will be people who tell you that your art isn’t good enough or it’s embarrassing. That happens. But if making your art makes you happy, then don’t listen to those other voices. Just be yourself. OK?” She seems content with that.
“She’s singing that song in front of the whole church?” A voice from the older table –another of her siblings.
“Yes. And I expect all of you to sit in the pews and encourage her. Applaud her efforts when she’s done.”
“I thought we only applauded when the performance was a good one?” Says her older sister. Sigh. Clearly, I need to work on the message.
“It will be a good performance.”
And when church ends and the adults are milling with coffee I grab a mic: give it a quick test and hand it to this brave five year old for her moment in the sun.
And I beam through the whole thing, because she is soaring. She’s got a death grip on her mic, but she is fierce and brave and everything we want little girls her age to be. Her father sits in a pew with is cell phone poised to capture the moment. Her peers and siblings are also in the pews. Perhaps the message is getting through after all.
When she reaches the line, “I don’t care what they’re going to say” she shoots me a look and begins to smile. We share this secret: we can be artists and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. The cold never bothered us anyway.
When she is finished, I retrieve her mic. She’s not sure what to do with it. And I give her the biggest hug. “You were awesome! Good job!” There is applause from the pews and from the adults with their coffee. They had grown quiet, to take in this little wonder with a microphone and a message.
A few minutes later, one last tug, “Miss Wende?” I bend down so that we’re eye to eye, “Did I really do a good job?”
“Yes, sweetheart. You were amazing.”
Spoke too soon. . .
I had no idea when I quipped about the cold of snow, that snow was in the forecast. Snow is supposed to arrive on Monday, but those white flakes on the roofline in the photo mean the forecast got it wrong. The wintery mix has arrived and at least one person in my house is giddy about it. Every 5 minutes I get a weather update shouted up the stairs, “MOM! The snow is bigger.” “Mom! It’s sticking.”
I don’t think this is the storm for a winter wonderland. My guess is, lots of white stuff will come down and turn to mush upon introduction to the pavement. But it is a harbinger of the winter to come. Snow before Thanksgiving. Despite the passing thrill that white in the air brings, I quickly go into survivor mode. La Nina is never kind. I’m bracing for the worst. Someone hold my hand!
Now, none of this is a sermon. But I’m cognizant that last week’s sermon never arrived. So, I’m making up by being all wordy and pointless. (I’ll let you gather what implications there might be) I know I’ve not been as present as I’d like, but November has been filled with dental appointments and manic Mireio work. Both are subjects my family have long passed boredom over, so I thought I’d spare all of you.
However, November is also that month where we collectively pause to contemplate the blessings in our lives. And while I’ve not been Â writing it, I have been thinking it: I am utterly blessed by the readers of this blog. Your presence (here, email, facebook, twitter, real life!) enriches my life in so many ways. Thank you.
I suspect I will be back before the holiday. But should I take the week off… or should you… please know that I am full of gratitude for the part you play in my life. And I am praying for you.
My Thanksgiving wish for you is that you find something, like snow outside your window, to be giddy over, something that makes you pause and be in the moment, something that reminds you just how lovely life is.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,
Are you counting your blessings or someone else’s?
I read this Harold Coffin quotation that has me thinking: “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” Â And that reminds me of this old hymn I used to sing as a child, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” And that has me thinking I’ll redouble my efforts, tuck some of my blessings into the spiritual piggy bank we all carry at the center of our souls.
And it makes me wonder, what blessings are you counting today?
to your family, to your friends, to the people you meet along the way. On the internet, while standing in a long line at the post office, to the person “just doing their job” on the phone. Speak kindly to your children, to other people’s children, to the dog when you’ve had a hard day. Speak kindly to yourself! Because every word does matter!
Note: Typically, I post a photo for Sunday’s Sermon. However, this poster has been on my mind all week. For more information on Love is Louder and to help turn up the volume on Tuesday click here:Â Love is Louder. Â Poster by Studio Mela
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church-
I keep it, staying at Home-
With a Bobolink for a Chorister-
And an Orchard, for a Dome-
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice-
I just wear my Wings-
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton-sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman-
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at least-
I’m going, all along. Â ~~Emily Dickinson
A special thank you to Gwen, for sending me the poem. It serves as a lovely way to begin again.