We have one or two visitors most weeks, but today's worship was already going to be something special, with many visitors expected. Twenty-some members of one family were coming from all over the world (literally) to see a baby blessed and dedicated to Christ! I made sure we had twenty worship bulletins over and above our usual number of extras.
Half an hour before worship I welcomed two young men dressed all in black and metal, as the regular greeters weren't on duty yet. I was delighted to learn that they had looked us up on the internet and checked our website before coming. They were looking for a church that celebrated diversity. One of them said he was completely new to "the whole church thing."
Just as the prelude began I saw a woman I didn't recognize walk in the back door and straight up the aisle to the 2nd pew. Wow. By the time we stood for the call to worship one side of the church was nearly full and the usual latecomers hadn't yet arrived! We ran out of bulletins, and the deacons quickly made up an extra tray of cups for communion, which are two of my favorite "problems" on a Sunday morning.
When I stood up to greet our visitors during celebration and prayer concern time I introduced the 2 young men, invited the large family to introduce themselves, greeted some "regular visitors," then turned to the woman in the front. Suddenly I realized "I know that face." It was Mother Laura, a RevGal! What was she doing sitting in my 2nd pew when I knew she had an unfinished paper and a trip to England on her plate for today?
It really was a wonderful service. The sermon seemed to go well, the parents were beaming, the baby was beautiful in a long white satin gown, She even seemed to enjoy having her forehead anointed with fragant oil. The young men said they would come back, the family provided a lovely lunch, and Laura and I got to spend a little time in conversation before she headed back to her computer.
There were some little weirdnesses, of course. The pianist played 2 verses of the hymn on the wrong side of the page before she realized her mistake. My microphone kept cutting in and out. But that's just the kind of normal Sunday stuff that helps me remember that I'm not in charge.
The blessings always outweigh the weirdness and today was a perfect example of how that happens. A beautiful baby was blessed and dedicated and will be part of my church family from this day forward, even though she and her parents live in Australia. Two young men may have found a place of worship where they feel welcome. Mother Laura and I got to meet in person, and she hopes to be able to come back again. And she got to spend time in worship to renew her spirit before finishing her paper and getting on the plane.
This has truly been a day of new beginnings and many blessings.