Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Kind of Easter Prayer

This morning, I am "doing" the service at our church, a great honor because it is Easter.  I say "doing" because I'm not really sure what Unitarians call someone who reads sections like the call to worship, the chalice lighting and the offering.  If this were a Catholic church, I might be identified as the Lector, but even then, my position is a little different because we members of the congregation who take part actually write (with help from the minister) what we will read. 

It's an interesting position to hold.  I've done it once before, and though I was terribly nervous, I enjoyed it.  Writing and subsequently reading what I've written draws me further into the spirituality of the service and helps me connect more with the church community--not surprising, since I'm a writer.  But there's more to it than that.  For me, it's not just about writing for a service.  It's about service.

When we were growing up, my father used to refer to my mother as "Martha," the Biblical character (and one of Jesus' scarcely mentioned, women disciples) who was always serving Jesus and the Apostles.  My mother has consistently done things for the church, at functions, at Sunday School, during the services, etc.  As a teacher's aid, she has spent her life serving children, mostly those with disabilities.  And in her second job, she provides customer service.  Then, of course, she has been a mother, a service all its own.  When my mother feels she his helping others, when she is doing something, she is happiest, and it shows.  I am the same way.

Put me in a purely social environment and I might have fun for a little while.  But put me in a position where I can serve and I enjoy it more.  Not only does my social anxiety fade, but my sense of purpose materializes, a physical reminder of my beliefs about why I was put on this planet.  I connect better, I work better, I feel better, I don't muck around in my own awkwardness or moodiness.  I live more in the present.  And in this particular case, I have the opportunity to direct my writing and (squirrel) brain.

Our music director has also asked me several times over the past few years to take part in services, as have members of our Worship Committee.  When I tell them, "Thank you for thinking of me," and "I would be honored," I'm not being falsely humble or trite.  I am being grateful.  I am thankful that they recognize my own desire to give back to a community that has given me so much and that they feel I have something meaningful to offer.  I am pleased the congregation can receive whatever small gift I am able to offer.

Easter is one of the "biggies."  Some people only go to church on Christmas and Easter, so I know there will be a bigger crowd this morning than at my last service, which was around Valentine's Day.  I might get a little nervous and need reminders of when it's my turn to read.  I know there are those who find this kind of thing no big deal, but I'm generally not one of those people.  And that is also something to be grateful for: a community that stretches me beyond my comfort zone into an area of service that is new to me. 

This morning, I hope my meager efforts truly will make Easter more joyful, more fulfilling, for at least a few.  And I hope my community and my God will hear me say one of the most important prayers:  "Thank you."

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