Sunday, March 27, 2016

Not a Rolled-Away Stone, but a Carried-Away Church

I was getting ready to leave the church today when I crossed over the glass bridge that connects the office suite with the sanctuary. I heard music as soon as I opened the office door which puzzled me as I thought I was the only one still in the church part of the building. I then looked down and saw someone sweeping. Michelle, a first-year seminary student who lives upstairs, was sweeping the floor that was earlier covered with tables overflowing with food from our community potluck.

"Michelle, what are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm sweeping," she responded.

"But the floor will be swept in the morning," I said.

"I know. But I went upstairs and I couldn't stop thinking about the mess that was made. I didn't want our Easter joy to be someone else's burden," she explained.

Leadership comes in many forms. Michelle showed me an extraordinary form of it today. I was nearly rendered speechless, humbled to my core when I heard her words about the remnants of our joy possibly becoming someone else's burden. We had just celebrated the resurrected Jesus but Michelle was a powerful picture of Jesus to me today - Jesus who serves, Jesus who remembers that someone else may have to carry the burden we create, Jesus who quietly cares for others when no one else is watching. I'm still utterly amazed by her actions.

I later noticed this quote from Clarence Jordan posted on Facebook, "The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the full hearts of his transformed disciples. The crowning evidence that he lives is not a vacant grave, but a spirit-filled fellowship. Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church."

At the end of this Easter day, I realize again that I have the extraordinary privilege of being part of such a place. Our Holy Week has been powerful and transformational because countless people in our spirit-filled fellowship have gone the extra mile to share their gifts. A colleague at Duke used to refer to a group of gifted people as "an embarrassment of riches." I've seen an embarrassment of riches at work this week in so many ways from a person who memorized a script for Palm Sunday to a woman who vulnerably shared her heart today through a powerful testimony, from people who sang incredible music to an individual who created the worship slides, from people who opened the doors of the shower ministry this morning to those who picked up trash in the front lawn yesterday, from those who came early to greet to those who carefully ensured there would be just enough food at the potluck, from those who created prayer stations on Good Friday to the one who preached on Maundy Thursday, from those who counted every single person in worship today to those who were willing to miss worship to care for our children, from those who took down every table and chair following lunch to those who have created a communications team and posted all kinds of clever things this week, from those who did not get to sit in their normal pew today to those who scooted over to sit closer to someone who was moved to tears, from those who hid eggs for our children to find to those who took the trash out after lunch, and from every person who showed up and said "hello" to someone else, making them feel welcome but also becoming the answer to our prayer that no one show up without being noticed in some way.

It's been an extraordinary Easter because of the sacrifices of many people. My heart is overflowing. May Christ continue to transform our hearts, fill our fellowship with the Spirit, and carry us away in powerful ways.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!


Val said...

Lovely words, Donna. I spoke today about being resurrection people and noticing the little resurrections all around us, as well as participating in their creation for others. Your piece speaks directly to that, blessed Easter. Val

valrosenquist said...

Lovely words, Donna. I preached today on being a resurrection people--noticing the little resurrections all around us as wel as participating in their creation. Your piece speaks directly to that! Happy Easter!