The Space Between: “I’ve been waiting for this all my life!”

Tom McDermott_Sq 500So, has this happened to you?

You get up on Sunday morning, rush around getting ready for Church – maybe getting the kids ready, or getting your “significant other” ready (whose delays are wearing his/her significance down).

Maybe it’s just enough to get yourself ready and out the door on a Sunday morning!

So you roll into church with a few minutes to sit, catch your breath and look around the room. Someone is playing music. You’ve been here in this spot (maybe this exact same seat, in fact) dozens and dozens of times and yet it suddenly hits you this one time, something unexplainable and exciting, and you think, “I’ve been waiting for this all my life!”

That’s happened to you before, yes?

A while back, Michael Johnson, the inexplicably exuberant and optimistically vocal (11-year-old) son of Elaine and Rod Johnson, was overheard exclaiming this very sentiment as he prepared to don his acolyte robe for the first time and carry the candle taper into one of the Sanctuary Services: “I’ve been waiting for this all my life!”

Not a typical expression you expect to hear in church on any given Sunday. The expressions I remember from my childhood experiences in church were more like my Aunt Mary Elen saying, “Well the preacher’s about to speak. Better settle in, cause this could take a while,” Or my Grandmother about my Grandfather’s singing, “God gave him one note and that’s the note he brings to church!”

But there is certainly some hint of Michael’s exuberance, this sense of unexpected fulfillment, which is at least present in many of the stories we hear from week to week: the long awaited return of the prodigal son, a victim of an aggravated assault receiving comfort from the unlikely source of a Samaritan, Jesus eating with tax collectors and divorced women … And not just in the Bible stories. They are our stories — a son or daughter recovered from a lifelong addiction and attending church again as a family, a church member being served breakfast by one of our unsheltered visitors, one man’s sense of acceptance and deep forgiveness, or one member’s sudden insight and transformation from hearing another’s story.

Justice, compassion, joy and meaning are happening every Sunday in worship at First Church —  in the Sanctuary Worship services, Disciple Church, Children First, First 7th, and eleven:eleven — stories of the kind of joy or wonder or compassionate we’ve been “waiting for all our lives.”

And this Sunday in eleven:eleven celebration, we’re raising the anticipation bar a little higher than usual as we continue our series “Who We Are, What We Think and Why We Do What We Do” with a focus on “doing church” in eleven:eleven. With special music from Lyle Lovett, Alexi Murdoch and others, and not just a few surprises, dare I say, this Sunday you might just find yourself saying “I’ve been waiting for this all my life!”

Tom

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