Every year our church hosts a number of large scale conferences. It’s a bit of a thing for our branch of the faith, big meetings, lots of loud music, large scale gatherings, weird Holy Ghost mumbo jumbo (well, it looks that way to the uninitiated) and for the most part, in recent years, I’ve gone along to the Girls’ Big-Thing (as I am required to as a staff member) pretty much kicking and screaming.
The introvert in me revolts at the sheer volume of people, the rebel gets aggro at the ‘having to’ of being there and the tomboy in me gets freaked at the girly princess vibe emitted by many of those in attendance.
The thing is, I always enjoy it while I’m there (girly princessy vibe notwithstanding) and pretty much always get something out of it somewhere along the line.
The format follows much the same as our church services, congregational singing, prayer, Bible reading, a speaker of some sort or other bringing a message of some sort or other. This year the speakers were all great, the messages awesome but for me, different than any of the others, the benefit I got out of this event wasn’t in any of these things.
The benefit for me came in a realisation that in being part of this church I am a valuable part of this community of faith. Happily, I found, my value isn’t because of the camera I was walking around with, the website I tweak daily as part of my work, the classes I teach to the students. Neither is my value in conforming to the ‘baby twiggy princess’ standards of appearance some might perceive on first look when coming into the building for the first time.
I have a pretty fair idea after this conference that my value is simply because, I’m me, because I’ve been there for a really long time, and because people recognize me as a committed part of the furniture and, quite frankly, because people like to see me around.
This is a very nice revelation for me.
For some reason this conference came with a great sense of belonging, a great sense of being part of a great church which, if you’ve walked closely on my journey in the last year may be a bit of a surprise, (because I’ve had regular times when some of the stuff I’ve seen go down has given me every desire to say “Eff You! I’m off.”) So, truth is, I was kind of surprised that I came away feeling this way.
so many people I’ve not seen in a while (due to either my choice to be absent a
lot more often in the past or to changing lifestyles and patterns
that means our paths cross less often than before) and in all cases I was greeted so warmly and so often, that I realised that these people do appreciate me being around somehow.
I’m blogging about now instead of back nearer the event itself because that community gathered together today for a Memorial Service for an extraordinary woman who had been a founding member of this church and a member of the Snr Management team. 28 years in pastoral leadership. 28 years quietly loving the people of this ‘house’. It was a moving service for such a beautiful lady, who died after a cancer tussle that lasted 5 years.
I’m thinking about it today, because as much as the change I see going on in this place grieves me at times, as much as I struggle to see people hurting for whatever reason, as much as I have moments when I disagree with how we do things, I want to continue to be a valuable part of this community. I’ve been here for 10 years, and other divine plans notwithstanding, I’d like to continue to be valuable so that if I make it to 28 years, people will be as thankful for me as the were for our precious Heli today.
It may be that I don’t know what a valuable part of this community for someone at my age and stage looks like right now, but I know that the Person around whom we gather has a plan. I’m sure that the song is true… God Will Work it Out, Soon We Will See, Everything Will be Alright.