This morning at the Congregation of the Good Shepherd we celebrated Reformation Sunday. This is a new-to-me feature of the church year due to my “we’re-both-reformed-and-catholic” Anglican past! At COGs we’re both catholic and reformed so we just do/be both! This Sunday was Reformation Sunday, next Sunday will be an All Saints/All Souls Memorial Eucharist.
The Congregation of the Good Shepherd also has a tradition of giving Bibles to the member of the senior Sunday School classes. We decided to combine a celebration of the Reformation’s emphasis on Scripture in the vernacular with the Bible-giving and so we invited a number of members of the congregation to speak briefly about where they find words of life in Scripture.
It was fantastic. Contributions ranged through the story of Gideon (a scientist told us about Gideon’s controlled experiment with the fleece!), a passage from Joshua, the prophets with their visions of peace and justice (Isaiah and Micah), the super-abundance of wine and God’s grace in the wedding at Cana (was Jesus a little irresponsible with the provision of so much wine?), a teenager telling us that Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was important to him because it shows Jesus as a real human, capable of experiencing fear and not some sort of superman and a look at the poetry and challenge of the hymn to love in 1 Corinthians. It was moving and inspiring and challenging. Members of the congregation also contributed post-it notes and pictures to a folder so we have a record of some of the parts of Scripture that are sustaining, challenging or sources of joy in our lives in Beijing.
People told me this morning that they thought some of my spark was back! I’m certainly doing better physically than I was even a couple of months ago but I think what people saw this morning was joy and delight. I was so glad to be worshipping with that congregation this morning. I found joy in the children singing the introit and inviting us to join them; joy in a Fijian-accented Call to Worship proclaiming the work of the Creator visible on one of Beijing’s most foggy and grey mornings; joy in the choir’s beautiful anthem; joy in our celebration of Scripture; joy in those who were belting out “A Mighty Fortress”; joy in the chaos of a choral benediction accompanied by the children on percussion. I’ve been in bed since I got home, needed a big sleep this afternoon and couldn’t go to a celebratory dinner this evening (a celebration for a couple who were married in the States – so glad for them and sorry not to be there) – but it was completely worth it! It wasn’t perfect or polished but I think it was what we like to call some good church! Thanks be to God!