Most Sundays, I arrive at the church early in the morning, tea or juice in hand, and prepare for the morning's activities. There are programs to highlight, notes to make, sometimes sermons to finish.
Today is New Year's Day, and today is different.
Today we're blessing animals in church: dogs, a cat or two, gerbils in cages, an occasional snake, even a couple of bearded dragons. I find myself, folded comfortably into an easy chair, anticipating these encounters. The furry dog who can't keep still. The tiny kitten overwhelmed by cacophony. The happy children buzzing from friend to friend, amazed.
These last few months, I've taken my work (and my words) very, very seriously. There's been a good bit to consider, and I hope we've done right in lifting up the gospel of peace and the values of inclusion, diversity and courage. Even this morning, I'm rattled by news of more violence, this time in Istanbul, and the realization that 2017 will probably be a lot like 2016 in this regard. The church, I believe, is called to suffer with the suffering, and hope with the hopeless.
But maybe today, at least today, a little revelry will do us well. Maybe today, some dogs at the communion table, some cats in the receiving line, some gerbils in the laps of children--maybe these friends will remind us of joy and wonder. Without joy and wonder, all of my prophetic posturing means next to nothing. Without joy and wonder, the church can't suffer in the end, and we can't hope either, not like Jesus anyway.
So here's to joy, and a few cool cats gathering for worship on New Year's Day!