I realize that, as a pastor, Sunday isn’t usually classified as a “day of rest” during the week. But I still find it so restful, even when I’m actively a part of the church service. There’s something restful when we’re fulfilling our calling, doing what God has specifically created and called us to do. This morning, I got to lead the music at my church for the first time since being here. This is not something I feel called to do, but I am fairly good at it nonetheless. Actually, the problem isn’t that I hate it; it’s that I enjoy it too much! I love being in the spotlight and still have dreams about being a singer or actress in another lifetime (or later in this one!). But I know in the context of church that I’m not the focus; I don’t like when churches have their praise band act like rock stars. Don’t get me wrong: I think the quality of the music should be top notch, but the musicians themselves shouldn’t be the focus. So I tend to be quieter when I’m up front because I don’t want to like the attention so much. As a result, I think I end up looking miserable a lot of the time, but hopefully the music still sounds ok and people can sing along.
But the even better part this morning was that I got to lead communion in the service. I LOVE the liturgy! I love knowing that people around the world pray these prayers every Sunday as they celebrate the Eucharist. But there’s a fun part, particularly in the United Methodist liturgy (http://www.revneal.org/communionlit1.html), which allows for some ad libbing based on the season. So today, for the first time, I got to write that part using the pastor’s sermon (about Emmanuel as this God with us) as a reference point. It comes during the first main paragraph of text, which begins, “It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” But instead of using the standard words that follow, I wrote my own while I was listening to the sermon: “You came as a baby at this time–in our darkest hour–over 2000 years ago. You became Emmanuel, God with us, so that we could be with you for all of eternity. Yet we remained unfaithful, even crucifying you on a cross. But you, as God with us, rose again, overcoming death for all of eternity. And you delivered us from our captivity to sin and death so that we can witness to this God–Emmanuel, God with us.” And then it continues with the standard, “And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven…” What a joy to get to do this! To get to serve people the body and blood of Jesus, particularly at the time of year when that body first graced us on earth with his presence.
And so, though I got to physically and relationally rest the rest of the day (took a nap and had a relaxing dinner with friends), even “working” at church this morning was restful. Just getting to share the Gospel with others and fulfill my calling is restful. I’m so thankful to get to be a small part of work God is hoping to do here in Santa Barbara!