On the Sunday night after the election, in the smokey darkness of the great cathedral nave of our church, people gathered. They gathered because they always do, but only half of them. The other half of them arrived never having visited before. Can you imagine? Arriving for a church service and having the congregation doubled?!
People had heard about the special service on the news on Friday night and on CPR radio. Int was a call for unity in our city. It was not a religious experience to soothe democrats or to celebrate with republicans. It was just a place to gather together. That is what the church ideal does well. It gathers together. So we did. We gathered.
We wandered in the smokey darkness of the nave lit with candles and full of interactive stations set up all over the church to help people connect with their God and with they feelings and with each other. One could go to a wailing wall and place in its cracks a card on which they wrote their wailings. One could go to a baptismal font beneath which were mirrors and red and blue felt and – by looking into the font’s glass bowl – one would see one’s face in the midst of blue and red – wondering what it will be like for supporters of different candidates to remain together in baptismal promises. We could go to a room full of blue and red Christmas ornaments and shards of splintered lights and place tags on a tree expressing our longings for the future. We could go to a massive table to paint cards with a tree of life symbol and write notes to people we love, or to ourselves, or to God. We could visit one room dedicated to holy oil among stones for healing or blessing so that Trump supporters can bless and Clinton supporters can heal and we can all do it together. There was even a place to light hundreds of candles and simply pray.
It was amazing to see people allow themselves 20 minutes to simply wander and pray and interact with things to help them process the week’s elections. But then the most amazing thing of all happened. After the service we gathered in Dagwell Hall and sat in a circle around a beautiful low floor-table full of Jesus and light and flowers and with a talking-piece, we each expressed our longings for the future. Seventy five people spoke – one at a time – sometimes with tremulous voices, or sat and listened. We answered two questions:
1. For what do you now long?
2. What now, do you midwife into being?
What are your answers to that question?
On Wednesday night we gather as a church community. We will listen to live jazz, eat french foods like brandied pear and gorgonzola salad, Beef Bourginion, and chocolate cups with chocolate mousse and a raspberry coulis. We will dance and eat and celebrate together – democrats and republicans, we will gather and love on each other.
When Jesus said do “this” in remembrance of me, I am convinced we are following that commandment on Wednesday night. It is not too late to register. Sign up and join us!
Gathering, celebrating, weeping, together. That is church. Ritual is only the container. And only one possible container. A second is like unto it – a great and glorious party! And I am less and less convinced that there is much difference, ideally.