Gifts and Graces

Death is all around us.  I see it.

A friend of mine started a church around the same time as Bridges of Grace started.  That church, we will call the Flower Church, started slightly before us, but nearly the same.  The Flower Church is closing the doors the very same Sunday Bridges of Grace celebrates one year as an officially recognized congregation of the United Church of Christ.

I cannot sit here and say I am not sad, because I am very sad not only for my friend, but for the church.  She has done amazing things with this ministry.  Now, I know there are a lot of things that affect this closure.  But, for me it is the death of some of my hope for the future.  I kept looking to my friend  for inspiration.  She is very creative.  The Flower Church was doing some very innovative things.  So, at first, it did hit me hard.

Then, I look to my congregation, and I smile!  We are so unique, so special and dynamic.  We have so many gifts.  Our gifts and graces in this ministry are unlike any other church in the world.  We are special.  We ARE unique.

No two churches are alike.  I/we do not need to look anywhere but where we are.  People like to ask “so, how many folks do you have in worship?”  I always hate to answer that question, because it is not a true reflection of who we are or where we are or how connected we are as a community of faith.  If someone involved in Bridges of Grace put a note on Facebook that they need prayer or a vacuum cleaner, the comments of support come flying in.  If we have the ability to help, each of us will help in whatever way we can.

The last two weeks, I actually intentionally took out the time for joys and concerns in our worship.  The first week it was because it was Easter and I wanted to explore a different way of expressing our prayers.  The second week, I wanted to know if it was missed.  I heard from a number of people after that second week wanting it back.  I have discovered that it is yet another way that we remain connected as a community of faith.

You really are listening!

Another reason I do not like answering the question of how many in worship is I want to count those who wish they could, but for whatever reason they cannot.   It is tax season, well that means we will not have this person or that.  It is Christmas or Easter and many of our folks have family out of town, so unlike the “traditional” church, not our highest attended days.  Yet, I feel no less connected with those missing than if they were there.  Folks often let me know if they will not be there.  I love that!

Society is changing and evolving, and the church must change with it.  Growing up in a small town, nothing happened on Sundays and most restaurants were closed.  We did not have soccer practice; people did not work on Sundays.  Actually my hometown did not have soccer, but that is another story for another day.  However you get my drift.  Things are changing and we must change with it.  We are a seven day a week society.  So we must be grace filled and embrace the evolution.

Keeping our connection to each other is important, even if it is a Facebook comment about “Downton Abbey”, that small connection remains an important part of our community.  Worship remains the one time in the week that we try to be in the same place at the same time, to connect.  If you cannot be there, you are no less apart of us or a part of our ministry.  You can come and help serve at Manna Meal and not worship and we will love and respect you for your assistance with our ministry.

Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ is an amazing faith community with an outreach to many.  We have so many gifts and graces for ministry for such a time as this.  We will live on to celebrate many years to come knowing our church does not necessarily look like any other church, but it is OUR church and our ministries will always reflect who we are and whose we are!  God is still SPEAKING!

Peace be with you!



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