Our granddaughter, Eleanor, will turn two at the end of October. She’s curious and playful and loves to make others laugh. She’s empathetic, musical, and generally fearless. Ella loves books, trucks and her dog, George. That’s just the beginning of the list of what and who Ella loves.
Like most people I know, she gets hangry and sometimes cranky, and like most, doesn’t like the word “no.” Her parents are getting lots of practice with boundaries and negotiation. Ella the strong-willed does well when given choices that allow her, when it’s safe and appropriate, to get to “yes.” Who doesn’t?
As church leaders, we’re watching and experiencing a lot of loss and grief in this season. We’re missing the ways we used to worship, or we’re missing the people who can’t return to worship with us yet. We’re missing so much of what we took for granted– gathering, hugging, singing, coffee hour, visiting face-to-face. We’re being asked to do things differently, to manage in new ways, to adapt and none of it is simple. We’re hangry and tired, cranky and critical. It’s hard to hear so much “no.”
I’m noticing that the congregations in the presbytery who are coping well in this season are spending some time being careful and safe, and they’re not letting the list entitled “no” weigh them down too heavily. They’re being prudent and safe, but they’re still of a mind to ask God where they’re needed and how they can help and play and bring joy and be messengers of hope and good news. They’re looking for ways to say “yes” as often as they safely and appropriately can. They’re saving some energy for the joy of serving creatively.
Too soon to gather for Sunday School? Yes, so let’s find a way to help faith formation materials find their way to people’s homes. Miss being in our beloved sanctuary for worship? Yes, but praise God that we have triple the number of folks tuning in to worship online! Troubled by the events in our nation and world? Yes, and I’m ready to engage in conversation with trusted friends to learn and grow and pray. Hearing the cries of the hungry and the stressed? Yes. Here I am, send me.
Friends, we need to remind each other daily of the antidote of yes. Remember the powerful question to which we said “yes” in ordination?
Will you seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love?
We said yes.