I’ve never been a huge Palm Sunday girl. Truth be told, I think I’ve probably skipped more of them in my adult life than I’ve attended. Palm Sunday bored me. I preferred Good Friday with its silence and pale pale light. Palm Sunday rang fairly false to me too, especially considering all that lay ahead.
I’ve been a pretty regular Church goer since September. In the beginning all credit should go to the fact that I was invited to be a support Teacher for the Middle Schoolers at Sunday School. So, I kind of had to be there; but somewhere deep down inside of me I knew that if I stayed quiet within this experience and let the moments unfold, marvelous, magical God-filled things would happen. And they have, in a multitude of ways.
Changing things up is a wondrous phenomena. This year my Church, the Presbyterian Church on the Green in Morristown, was invited to join the Bethel AME Church down the hill for its Palm Sunday service. Let me be clear, I have lived off and on in the Morristown area for more than 40 years. The Bethel AME Church has existed for at least that period of time if not longer. I have driven by the Church probably 100,000 times. I have never set foot inside of its doors. No real reason, I just haven’t. But today, with G, I did, and my life has changed forever.
Now I know that’s a fairly dramatic statement, and I also recognize that I can have some fairly visceral and quickly reactive feelings to unique experiences that wane over time. Honestly though, neither drama or emotion have much to play in my engagement with today. I just believe in my heart that I have been moved to shift and open even more in ways that I had neither anticipated or expected. I’m totally unsure as to what will happen next. And I’m fine with that!
The God of my understanding has begun to work in my life in this gentle but immediate way over and over and over again. I was moved to tears by the closeness I felt to people that I had never met before. Such amazing beautiful authentic singing and sharing and cheering and supporting. From the time we entered the Church until the time we left, two and a half hours later, the entire congregation was invited by the Pastors of both Churches to open and humbly surrender to the great great gift that we were being given. My son Gareth who is 14 years old and as cynical about church as any other teenager, turned to me at one point and said, “This is so great. I’m definitely coming back!”
My life unfolds in mysterious and wonderful fashion when I take the suggestion of my Pastor Dave Smazik and turn off the GPS that I believe is so integral to my life, and trust in the awesomeness of a spiraly spiritual life. There is no promise of perfection here, not even, necessarily a pain-free life journey. But I do know that suffering becomes optional when I turn downstream and allow the flow of the grace of the God of my understanding to move me and coinhere with me in a universe full of unconditional love and the potential to serve.
We were served up a huge dose of the love of God within one another revealed in music and laughter and applause and joy. And there is so much potential for greater connection and relationship as a result of the experience of this Spirit -filled joy than I had ever even imagined might manifest when I accepted the invitation to spend Palm Sunday so differently. Tonight I friend requested the Pastor of Bethel AME, Sidney Williams and he accepted my request. I believe he is the first of many new heart-centered relationships at Bethel. It’s really humbling and inspiring to be so graciously received.
I’m up for it. And really really grateful.