Yesterday, I filled in for Pastor Leah at Thomas House. My adventures at Thomas House, have, well, been very formative for me in this my spiritual quest (you can read about my first solo visit here). And I have high hopes that my organ playing will improve now that my friend Elaine pointed to me this great book: 100 Hymns with Just Three Chords. So yesterday, I prepared “Open My Eyes”, “I Need Thee, Oh I Need Thee,” and “Blessed Assurance”, and despite my less-than-elegant playing, well, it seemed to work.
But yesterday, the surprises for me were not in the music, neither the singing nor the playing, but in the discussion of our Bible passage. You see, I’ve watched how Pastor Leah puts together the service and I followed her lead: I took the Call to Worship from our previous Sunday service, and then I picked one of the four lectionary texts. Originally, I thought that I would take the Prophets text, since that was our sermon series, but only a week back, I didn’t feel capable of leading that discussion without more research than I had time. And so, I chose the Gospel text: Luke 12:13-21, the parable of the rich fool.
I thought that this was a discussion that I could handle — all people of faith battle with the their own place in the consumerist culture that is 21st century America…we all struggle with the size of our barn and how much stuff to put in it. And I did my reseach — I understood the relationship of the parable to the following, for me, more famous, text about the lilies of the field; I read all about the other parables of the rich and the poor in Luke and the general emphasis on the economically disenfranchised in the Gospel of Luke — I was as ready as I could be, I thought. But, as usual, the discussion took a turn that I did not expect.
Yes, we all talked about the meaning of abundance, the meaning of just what is enough abundance, what do we do with the excess, etc. We laughed about the people on Home and Garden Television who think that they are entitled to that walk-in closet and that bathroom with two sinks. And then, Miss Jubilee, the most beautiful wonderful spirit who draws me back over and again to Thomas House, said: “You know, there are riches to be shared that aren’t things. And sometimes people forget that, those of us here, have those riches and want to share them. We need to share them.”
And then I thought about all the hours when I have sat at an Elder’s knee, both literally and figuratively, and all that I have learned from those hours. And I saw before me a room full of people of faith, who had spent their lives giving and giving back, and who had the collective wisdom that results from a life such as that. And I realized that they were teaching me still.
Sorry, I am inexperienced — that kind of a pastoral moment, as my friends would tell me, quite took my breath away.
We talked and talked after that, and here is the bottom line: our folks at Thomas House want to do a service project — even if it is just collecting clothes to give away to those who need it. Even at 90 years plus, they feel blessed with abundance and grace, and they want to share.
Guess I know what I’m doing this fall…