81 Sundays

“When we make a space for silence, we make room for ourselves…”

–Gunilla Norris, Sharing Silence

Rev Lee at entrance to the North Parish sanctuaryLast Sunday after our second “practice service” with lay leaders- held before opening up the sanctuary for everyone- Pat Grimm approached me with an “artifact” that she found in her pew. It was a copy of the Order of Service from March 8, 2020- the last service that was held in the sanctuary. Wow! That was 81- eighty-one– Sundays ago.

That service was in celebration of International Women’s Day and the Rev. Erica Richmond was preaching. The music- by Bob Dylan and The Beatles- was provided by Aaron Pawelek, Oliver Pawelek, Bill Putnam, Kim Adami, Dave Cook, Keith Wentzel, Lora Williams and Kerry Anne Kilkelly. The Order of Service also had three and a half pages of Announcements about upcoming events. Wow.

COVID has done a number on congregational life everywhere. Maybe we have learned to slow down a bit and prioritize. Maybe we have learned to tune out. Maybe we have learned to get creative, to teach ourselves some new tricks and even have fun doing it. Maybe we have learned how much we took for granted in the “Before Times”. Eight musicians up front at once! Singing hymns as loud as we wanted to! Sitting right next to each other, talking loudly at each other during coffee hour, meeting for lunch and dinner and concerts and book groups and movies and knitting circles and equinox circles and circle suppers and workshops! It’s all there, in that old Order of Service. We were busy doing our thing.

This Sunday will be the 82nd Sunday since the sanctuary was closed. If you have assessed your own risk tolerance and want to come sit in those old, hard, red-cushioned pews, please let us know! Please register via the link so we have an idea of our numbers and have a record for contact tracing. My gratitude to the Rev. Tess Baumberger who will be preaching here, while I lead a child dedication for Cara Forcino’s grandson at the service at Ferry Beach. Just a reminder: Zoom worship will continue “forever”.

There is nothing like being in that high-ceilinged sanctuary space, and I know the staff worship team has been spoiled to be in there over the last 19 months. One person who was in the pews on Sunday described it as “dreamy” to be there, listening to John and Erin sing live.

In her little book Sharing Silence, Gunilla Norris writes, “A room set apart for silence becomes a sanctuary- a place for breath, for refreshment, for challenge and for healing. It is helpful to keep the space plain and simple… By making room for silence, we resist the forces of the world which tell us to live an advertised life of surface appearances, instead of a discovered life- a life lived in contact with our senses, our feelings, our deepest thoughts and values.”

Wherever we are this Sunday for worship, may it be “dreamy”… and full of discovery.
Yours, Rev. Lee