Love and Laughter


Loving couple holdind on the hands and sunset

Photo from Stock.Xchng

I love our congregation. This is why.

Neo was at worship on Sunday. He is a severely disabled child whose gorgeous smile appears like a sunburst when you speak to him. When something happens during worship that he likes – perhaps music – he sings without words. He has no words.

His caregiver wheels him down the aisle for the children’s time and Neo pays careful attention. Who knows what he learns. But he knows he is loved.

Sunday’s service was a covenanting with Tracy, who was being recognized as a designated lay minister. Presbytery guests attended, and we were all invited downstairs after worship for a special lunch. With cake. And ice cream.

(Neo’s caregiver took him out for the covenanting part of the service, she explained to me after, because sometimes strangers don’t know what to make of Neil’s impromptu vocalizations, and she knew this service was important to them. I think that perhaps people might be less confused if they experienced his smile.)

Tracy’s covenanting was simple and joyful. Some children were part of the laying on of hands. Tracy works with the kids and they love her. You can tell.

A family that comes each week for lunch (because Sunday lunch is open to all who need it, and they usually do) filled the front row. I have never seen them in worship before. Tracy cares for them with love, and clearly, they love her.

We had communion chancel-style, where the people come and get the bread and grape juice at the front. It took a while. Everyone in Tracy’s line had to stop and hug her, joy written all over their faces.

Karin brought the elements up to fellow choir member Stephanie, who sat quietly with her Seeing Eye dog, Salsa. We would all like to pet Salsa, who is blond and beautiful. (Especially Stuart. Salsa leans up against his knee during choir practice, so affectionately.) But we are all careful not to touch Salsa when she is working, because she cannot be distracted from her task, which is to look after Stephanie.

Salsa cares for Stephanie very well.

Our minister, Jane, spoke clearly of the necessary longing, the necessary restlessness exemplified in the passage from Luke: “Be ready, be alert, stay awake for God’s kingdom draws near to dissolve the status quo and shake the foundations of the earth…”

Raymond had already sung a solo, full of that longing. Magnificently. Many of us have seen Raymond grow up here, brought to Sunday school by his grandma, and proceeding to leading roles in musicals in the university and community.

And Bethany, animated and vital as always, announced that the Christmas Eve choir would be led by Raymond. Bethany was born very prematurely, 20-some years ago, and we all prayed so hard for her survival. She received her masters’ degree a year or so ago.

Prayer, apparently, works. Or maybe it’s the love.

After church we went downstairs for lunch, where numerous downtown neighbours who need a good meal joined us. And it IS a good meal. Tracy requested macaroni and cheese, and Betty volunteered. Betty is an excellent cook. She made over 600 pies this year, fund-raising.

I can’t remember when I last made a pie. But I remember having Betty’s macaroni and cheese a few years ago, when my son was deathly ill in hospital. Everyone brought food for his little boy and for us, waiting, terrified, for good news.

Our son (or, as his little boy calls him, “your son, Dad,”) got better.

The macaroni and cheese was delicious. I sat with Patrick, who lives in a room downtown. He is very gentle and very large, and his voice is so soft I have to strain to hear it. All around me people chatted with old friends or new ones, the “downtown neighbours.”

I heard about one friend’s extraordinary drumming experience. Her openness to the spirit often, wonderfully, translates into the prayers of the people. And then I visited an older member of the congregation, quietly adjusting to the loss of a friend. “I love it here,” he said meditatively. “There is so much laughter.”

Someone has equipped Tracy with a blinking crown of coloured LED lights. My husband found some cookies and – like Tracy – went from table to table, happy at having found an excuse to roam and visit. Yes, laughter.

Apparently longing and watching for the Kingdom of God works, just the way prayer does. Because here it is. The peaceable kingdom, the commonwealth of the almighty, the promised realm of God. We are all here. The good cooks and the hungry people. The young and the old. The rich and the poor. The ones in need of healing and the ones who have been healed. You can’t tell the difference because there is none.

That’s why I love our congregation.

Be alert, then. Look around. You may notice that the Kingdom of God surrounds you, too. Already.

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Categories: Christian Life, Donna Sinclair, Featured, Healing and Wellness, People, Worship and Christian Education

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