The drawing above is of my friend Tim — the associate pastor at Covenant — and some of the kids of the church. One of the best rituals I've found at our little church is Children’s Time on the Blanket. Kids from two to maybe ten or so come up in the middle of the service, not for a children's sermon, but rather just for a time for the pastor to talk with the kids, to take up their offerings for a given missionary family, and to pray together.
Emma (our almost three year old) will walk up front to 'blanket time' and always catch herself mid-step, five or six paces into it, and do an about-face and come back to us for money; we'll give her a dollar bill or a quarter to put in the bag (like most kids she prefers shiny, weighty coins to paper currency any day) and then she and the other kids will go up to talk with Tim or Gordon.
Thanks, Tim and Gordon, for keeping this tradition alive.
I think if some of our present-day world leaders had, as children, walked up for Children’s Time on the Blanket, the world might be a more peaceful place.
Wednesday I asked another friend up at church to sing and play our Call to Worship for this morning, and she said yes. So this morning she got up with her guitar and voice and brought something that was wonderful: a simple Advent spiritual, Come, Lord Jesus (Come and be born in our hearts), delivered with a calypso strumming pattern — she told me it was the way the song had been passed down to her.
I hope the congregation received the song with open ears and hearts. Sometimes I wonder how this friend feels because of her present situation: She is a new San Antonian not by choice, but is here because she was displaced from her native New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. She lost everything, relocated. She still brings her infant granddaughter weekly, and they come to worship God. They get a ride up to church because she cannot afford a bus pass. She gets by without internet or email. I met her at the Franciscan retreats we have up at church, and since then we've talked about guitars and songs and her old life back in New Orleans. She's got a lovely singing voice, and in a strange way, I really feel like she's one of the reasons I'm there up at Covenant these days.
I picture her learning today's spiritual, chord-by-chord, decades earlier in Louisiana, perhaps singing with family or friends around her New Orleans living room. Perhaps she picked it up by taking in the sounds flowing out of the African-American congregation which I'd imagine she once regularly attended. Now days, her stories come in trickles, perhaps a little cautiously, usually while we're tuning instruments or handing out chord sheets. I'm convinced there's a deep well of story there.
Imagine my surprise when, close to the end of the service today, I looked up and spotted a couple of Emergent Village folks filing into the back of the church — the esteemed Glen Barbier and the inimitable Lance White, as well as their well-spoken sustainable gardener friend Steven Hebbard — all had made the morning road trip from Austin. I understand they got a little turned around, so they missed a good bit of the service.
But, as is often the case, a shared meal proved deeper and perhaps just as soul-satisfying as the service anyway (not to diminish from the service this week, or from the thoughts of John the Baptist swirling in my head). We all headed to Chipotle and spent at least two? two-and-a-half? certainly not three? hours eating and talking and connecting. When tribes collide.
One more missive. This afternoon Amy took a page from the Soupablog School for Nabbing a Christmas Tree this year, and went out and got back with a nice tree in well under an hour. Maybe more like 40 minutes. My kinda woman. Hunters: 1, Gatherers, 0. We had that sucker in the stand and unfurled in record time. Now our house smells like pine, and we'll have to bring in some ornaments over the next few nights. We're usually Late Decorators when it comes to Christmas. Lots of reasons, but if I explained them, it might sound like I'm railing on you Early Decorators out there.
Kate (see note, right) says I should draw a picture of our pretty tree. Maybe once it's decorated. I've got other pictures I'm drawing too, but how can you say no to a note like this?
My life is one big wonderful also/and.