We did this thing at Black Forest Community Church beginning January 1. We decided to hire an Interim Director of Music and Arts. I will be honest and tell you that this is the first in many years that BFCC will be funding a full-time pastor- me. It will be a stretch for both positions. But, you can't have church without music and art so when the previous choir director resigned we crafted a job description with high expectation, low hours and low cost. It's a bit of a risk. Mandy works with me each week on worship, liturgy, themes, hymns and special music. We meet downtown at the Wild Goose Meeting House. She also rehearses with our choir of fifteen or so every Monday evening. A large choir for a church membership of 65. Mandy's hours with us are approximately 7 hours a week. Though her expertise brings more than double those hours, especially when Russ joins her. She will be with us every second Sunday of the month while maintaining her full-time role at a large downtown UCC church.
I have known Mandy for almost a decade. We worked together years ago and when I left that congregation, I said "we will work together, again." I did not know how or when or what that would look like. I walked into the sanctuary this past Sunday, preparing the space for worship while Mandy and her partner Russ led rehearsal. My eyes welled up at the music of our choir. I looked at Mandy and hugged her tight. I wouldn't let her go. I whispered prayers of gratitude and love over her shoulder. Russ finally pried us a part and said there is business to do. Mandy laughed at the shock of my tight hug. It was out of character. Probably because Spirit was moving in a different way. My eyes stayed wet with water throughout the whole service. There would be moments when I would glance at my mom or my best friend and even the children in our space through eyes on the verge of tears.
The waters in my eyes were the blessings of my baptism coming in the form of vision- literally.
I wanted to thank her a million times for sharing her gifts with me and us and all of them. I wanted to thank Russ for sharing of himself. His art and his presence. I wanted to thank the large downtown church for sharing a piece of themselves with the little church in the Black Forest. And, I mostly wanted to thank BFCC for being a place where we can experiment. For trusting in God, in the way that they do.
This is a special place, I wanted to declare.
It is special because Jack is running back and forth through the circle to share with his parent. This is special because the members of this community are sharing vulnerable stories out-loud. This place is special because choir members are crying at the sound of music. This place is special because the tears shed are the blessings of baptism coming in the form of vision- literally.