Ah, relief. Two Dot, Montana was great, but Green Mountain Falls just feels restful. The sun did not shine on my pew until I sat in it, and I felt as if it were welcoming me home. It all felt so familiar: the spoken invocation of God’s presence, the call to a freeing rather than guilt-inducing time of confession, and the chance to say to those around us what Jesus himself might have said—“peace be with you”. I cannot help but want to say shalom every time we do this.
Early in the service, the Pastor did something strange (though he often does, so it wasn’t all that surprising). Telling us we needed to listen to a message, he dialed voicemail and held his cell phone up to the pulpit microphone. “That’s a first,” I thought. The message began with an odd, rhythmic sound similar to TV fuzz. At the very end, a voice: “That’s your baby!” His wife, he told us, had made that call from the ultrasound appointment. It was the sound of their baby’s heartbeat. What a fun way to announce it!
During the children’s sermon, he spoke of forgiveness. “I need to ask your advice,” he said after a few minutes. Still addressing the children, he said, “What do you suggest I do to help teach my child about forgiveness?” When (after a minute or two and few awkward responses) the children walked out and he returned to the pulpit, he laughed and told us, “Hey, gotta start getting advice wherever I can right now.”
There was cake, of course, this time in celebration of a congregant’s 65th birthday. I forwent it in favor of some incredible homemade zucchini bread, and I sat and chatted with various folks about school and life and the 14er I had hiked the day before. That day, I felt more at home there than I ever have before. Now, as the fall quarter begins and my travel becomes less frequent, I find myself ever so excited for a promising new year, full of small town Sundays.