That Spirit, Though

If for whatever reason you weren't a part of our worship service this morning, allow me to summarize what you missed.

It was Vacation Bible School Sunday. That meant that many of our volunteers showed off their snazzy maroon shirts that they wore all week (hopefully washed) and we sang and did the movements as a congregation to several songs our kids learned.

A men's chorus sang a rousing rendition of an old gospel song that had people nodding (and maybe singing) along as well.

We partook in communion which included a call-and-response blessing adapted from the liturgy used at the UCC's General Synod in Baltimore.

The offertory featured our accompanist leading us in a series of old school Sunday School and camp songs such as "Do Lord," "This Little Light of Mine," and "Kum By Ya" while a slideshow recapping VBS played.

People clapped. A lot.

No, listen to me. People clapped. A lot.

Was it typically what you find at Grace United Church of Christ on Sunday mornings? Yes and no. I mean, not every week will feature a set of decorations covering our chancel area to make it look like a factory (our VBS theme). And maybe we won't sing camp songs every time. And you won't necessarily see the pastor preach in shorts and a t-shirt while officiating communion in a clergy stole with a Doctor Who pattern (oh, did I mention that? Because that totally happened, too).

But I'm not really telling you about all of this because of the style, anyway. I'm telling you about it because of the spirit.

There was a spirit among the hundred or so of us gathered this morning that you just couldn't deny. We weren't singing or clapping out of obligation, but because people were moved. I'm not sure many there would be able to say that much was done half-heartedly, even when technology was being a little difficult or there was less room to move because of the special decor.

And that spirit, that energy, that vitality, is what really allows the church to do what it does. One could argue that numbers and budgets and programs help things as well, but it's possible to utilize and organize all of that without a whole lot of spirit behind it.

It's easy to just go through the motions week after week and think you're making a difference or being faithful or that everything is fine, when in actuality none of that is true. A lot of organizations--churches and otherwise--have been trying to get by for quite a while that way.

But that wasn't the case today. I don't think it'll be the case next week when we worship outside, or the week after when we enjoy Fifth Sunday worship with the band Legacy again.

That spirit is what makes things dynamic and gives life even if we're doing the same basic thing in worship with different songs and scriptures. That spirit is also what invigorates mission projects and Bible classes and special dinners and even committee meetings.

It can get a church through times of transition, such as anticipating staff turnover and discerning our mission for the future.

If you're paying attention to that spirit, you can do a surprising amount of good, divine work as God's people in the world.

Guided by that spirit, I wonder what we could do next?