9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9, 21st Century King James Version)
I sat, at the end of the day, thankful to rest at last, enjoying the cool, gentle, night breeze wafting in through the open screen door, carrying with it the call of coyotes from across the fields, wild and haunting.
It had been a perfectly exhausting but perfectly wonderful day. Good Friday; good Good Friday.
It had been 2.00 a.m. that Friday morning when I finally conceded that I had done as much as energy and common sense would allow, to prepare for our family dinner after the Good Friday communion service. Okay, scratch the "common sense" from that last sentence--sometimes common sense cannot prevail when there is work to be done. But the sweet potatoes and warm potato salad were ready and the potatoes for scalloped potatoes were ready to peel and slice later in the morning. I could go to sleep in peace.
Later that morning, the spiral ham in the oven, I stepped out into the warm spring sunshine to drive to church for worship practice before the service.
I was a few minutes late getting there after last minute the dinner preparations and Cheryl, Jessica, Cindy and Frances were already practicing the second song:Chris Tomlin's, Jesus Messiah. Their voices blended in rich harmony and as I took my place among them, Cheryl handed me a microphone, with a smile and a wink. I thought, as I so often do, how privileged I am to be part of this worship team.
It was the first time I'd been to church since I wrote the blog post about our church business meeting; and I was a little nervous in case I had offended anyone by it. So, between the practice and service, I checked in with Cheryl. She hadn't read the blog post, so I gave her a synopsis of the "meant to be funny" story about the hippy faction (including me) who didn't want to be stereotyped as Gaithers fans just because of being over 50. That's when I found out that in fact, the exchange that took place last Sunday had hurt someone who loves that music. Suddenly it didn't seem so funny and I was mortified.
As soon as I could, I grabbed the hand of the person we had hurt, and apologized.
"It wasn't you," she said..
"Yes, it was," I said--and tried to explain, while feeling crushed that a brief, and (to Ann and I) funny, fling, had caused pain to someone I care about.
In my determination to resist a stereotype, I had been guilty of stereotyping. Isn't that the way it goes?!
It isn't cool to be cruel, and cruelty is in the heart of the receiver. I was sorry from the bottom of my heart for saying and doing something that was experienced as unkind. I determined that in future I would be more careful. If there is a buffoon to play a part in my joking or writing, it shall be me. I have more than enough material to keep me going from that quarter.
To my repentant heart, the words of the communion service, resonated deeply.
I looked down at the congregation as the ushers circulated among them, serving the juice and bread. I looked at Lindsay sitting beside her mom, and I thought of her Sunday School class with Susan the previous Sunday, when she had taken the girls outside to gather hawthorn branches to make a crown of thorns. I knew that this Easter would be different for Lindsay because of that.
I looked down at my dear friend Susan sitting with a curly haired grandson beside her, and thought of all that God has been doing in her life of late. I sent up a prayer of gratitude for the miracle of God's work in our lives.
I thought of our brokeness and bumbling relationships as a congregation and how I don't want to be thought of as "cool" in my music choices as much as I want to be known as one who loves well. I think that's what God cares about more than anything else, too.
After church the dinner was got to the table with many helping hands and 12 of us sat down to celebrate family.
We feasted until replete and then the kids watched a movie while we started the Big Clean Up. Finally we all went for a walk to the park.
And the weekend isn't over. There is more to come. If this was Good Friday, I can't wait for Easter Sunday.
And by the way, here is a clip from a Gaither concert!