Recently, I spoke during Sunday announcements regarding coffee hour. I was compelled to speak because I’d noticed that if there was an “unhosted” Sunday, I’d see people walk away somewhat dejected at the apparent lack of coffee hour. My hope was to encourage people to go into the hall, turn on the lights, start a pot of coffee, grab a package of cookies from the freezer, and get an impromptu coffee hour started. Coffee hour is our opportunity to spend time together outside of worship. Time to meet new visitors. Time to catch up with our Grace family. For some, it may be their only opportunity to have social interaction with a community that holds them as beloved. In the weeks since, it seems to be working.
It doesn’t end there. Over the past month, I am pleased to report that there are other examples of “something” happening in the life of Grace. We have seen not one, but TWO fundraisers take place as a result of ideas that were shared and individuals taking action. (This in a parish where some have said, “We don’t do fundraisers.”) Of the eleven high school students from the Diocese that attended the Episcopal Youth Event and mission trip, one of them was from Grace. (And there were enough funds raised from this parish to cover costs for almost three students to attend.) We had six students attend summer camp and three of our adults work at the camp. (An outstanding percentage!) The floor of the church is coming back to life thanks to a small group of parishioners (and our Rector) who have offered to act as faithful stewards of what we’re blessed with. (Breaking the pattern of “hiring out”.) All Saints Chapel has recorded attendance each of week of nearly 40 souls. (And every week is “covered” by a different member of Grace taking ownership for the week.)
In all of these examples, members of this parish are coming together…are working together…are playing together…are serving the Lord together. For this we give thanks!!
On the Sunday when I spoke about coffee hour, I was partially moved to speak by the words from that morning’s scripture reading that struck a chord with me. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1) No condemnation. That morning, Father elaborated that when what we do is done in service to God and His kingdom that there will be no condemnation. What I heard was that we are redeemed because of Christ’s death and resurrection. If, out of gratefulness for that gift, we choose to “do” something in service to Him, there will be no condemnation if a mistake happens along the way.
We are each seen as able to do God’s work…whatever that may be. We may not believe it, we may find ourselves staring at a coffee pot or a “brat barn” or a mission trip or a chapel service that we’re not entirely sure what to do, but we ARE seen as able in God’s sight. We may make mistakes along the way but we have one another to support us. With each other’s help we will learn and grow stronger by what we learn along the way and who we learn it with. Whether it be starting a coffee pot, or grilling brats, or leading your first bible study or Sunday School class; we are each seen as able and will support one another. I am encouraged by each of the measures those of the parish are taking to pitch in and to learn to stretch because God has tapped them on the shoulder and asked them to jump in. Here’s to more stretching because “there is therefore now no condemnation.” Thanks be to God.