Last Sunday was Jazz Sunday at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor. I’d heard it was a long and favorite tradition here but because like most everything else it was cancelled last summer, I’d never experienced it myself. And because I don’t know much about jazz, I called the band’s director, Barney Balch.
“Jazz is about communication,” Barney told me, “It’s about having a conversation between the instruments in the band.” And so on Sunday, Barney and band members Lefty, Micky, Bill and Herb helped show us what jazz has to teach us about conversation.
We listened to the sound of a conversation that works. We remembered the importance of looking at each other, listening to each other. We listened to the sound of a conversation “break-down” or “train-wreck.” We heard how a train-wreck can turn to a new conversation by stopping and inviting a “do-over.” But most of all we all learned something about the wonder and holiness, the beauty and grace, fun and play of a conversation that ebbs and flows into new discoveries – just like jazz.
This weekend the congregation here is invited to a sacred conversation with the search committee’s settled pastor candidate. They’ll have the chance to meet, worship and gather as a community to vote on calling them as the next settled pastor of the church. The search committee has heard the Spirit’s call and this Sunday the congregation gets the opportunity to listen to and affirm that call as well.
It is a strange and wondrous work of trust that we hold in the United Church of Christ to listen for the Spirit’s call as a community to guide and lead the church into a season of transition.
It is common practice for the interim pastor to be away on this important weekend to make space for the new conversation to take place. I am gifted to have the opportunity to visit a friend who was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and expected that she did not have long to live. Here we are a year later and while she still has terminal cancer, she is feeling and doing well. It is a gift beyond words to be able to have the conversations with her we expected we might never get to have in person.
When I return next Monday, the conversation here is expected to turn to closing this interim time together and making room for the new. We’ll make time for conversations of thank you, forgiveness, love and goodbye. We’ll have the opportunity to look back on this strange, challenging and holy time we’ve walked through together framed by the pandemic. We’ll remember what good work we did together to prepare for the new as well all we did not do and have left incomplete.
We concluded Jazz Sunday with a reminder that in days of change and transition we need more than ever to be carried by the reminder of what we hold in faith and trust – that we are carried by Grace. Grace in the waves beneath us, Grace in the wind around us, Grace leading us forth to surprising new life and the other side of the Sea where we discover again that the journey through was more than worth it. A discovery of a new relationship and and new season that was so worth getting to.
In these holy days of conversation, may we open wide our hearts to a deeper listening, welcoming, discerning and following of the Spirit’s will and way.
Blessings in your conversations today!