It was one of those Sundays. The kind where everything that can go wrong, does. And then, something else happens. We had the wrong prayers printed in the bulletin, and wrong hymns projected on the screen. Our sound system didn’t work. The mics didn’t have batteries. I don’t remember, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear I tripped as I processed into worship. I’ve blocked it out. It was that kind of Sunday.
And it got worse…our lay reader for the day made her way to the lectern to read. She sat down her Bible, ready to read. Instead, it exploded. Pages and pages fell to the floor. Whole chapters and books fluttered to the floor. All the notes and mementos she’d stuffed between the pages, they went too. She looked up and said something like “Well that’s never happened before.” I wished I could say, “Go in peace,” and call it.
I’d love to tell you I found some way to tie it all together into some example of God’s grace in the midst of human imperfection. I didn’t. That day I was a real-time object lesson in the importance of slowing down, taking a breath. Instead I barreled on, trying to out run the mistakes. It didn’t work. I got to the end of our worship, made my way to the door, grateful that it was over. I wanted to go home and wallow. If nothing else, we could give thanks that this Sunday, we were done, and next week was a blank slate, a new opportunity.
As people left, we greeted one another, some embarrassed on my behalf, others sympathetic, others awkward in the raw vulnerability of it all. And here came Janet. Janet who could always find the moment when God spoke, the moment of grace, the moment worth acknowledging. More than once she would find some blessing in worship that I might have missed, a moment when God was moving among us. I knew, to my bones, that this Sunday, even Janet would be hard pressed to find something good to share.
As I looked into her face, Janet was smiling with tears in her eyes. “Wasn’t it beautiful?” she asked, real joy shining on her face.
“Wasn’t what beautiful?” I asked, thinking of the long list of less than beautiful moments. It was embarrassing, frustrating, shameful.
She interrupted my self-critique. “That moment when we were showered in the word of God. Wasn’t it beautiful?” She meant it. She wasn’t trying to make me or anybody else feel good. She was genuinely moved by a moment. She didn’t see disaster, she saw beauty, God’s word showered on us all. And she was grateful.
Gratitude can change everything. It helps us refocus on all that is good, right, holy and just in the world. It gets us outside our own little worlds of scarcity, shame, fear, sadness, anger, frustration and irritation and helps us refocus on blessings abundant and extravagant. When we notice what God is doing, we spend less time worrying about our own faults and failure. Keeping our eyes open for a reason to give thanks can change a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” into a sacred moment when we notice the showers of grace upon us all.
This Sunday, we’ll give thanks in word, song, prayer and praise! Let’s give thanks for the Janet’s in our lives who open our eyes to see the world anew. Let’s give thanks for God’s goodness and the blessings upon blessings showered upon us. Let’s gather together and allow God to change our worry into gratitude, our mourning into dancing, and our sadness into joy!
I’ll see you on Sunday,