It was 3:30 on Sunday afternoon when Kenny and I got in the car. The weather radar had shown showers and thunderstorms throughout the area with a potential break in the weather around 4:30, just in time for the Church Picnic at Doughton Park along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We loaded up our chairs and food and started driving. Then the rain began.
The rain just didn’t begin with a drizzle here and there. No! The skies grew dark and huge drops began to pound the car. The roads became sloshy in an instant, and the clouds settled in.
“Nobody is coming to this picnic!” I said. “I will be that Interim who tried to have the church picnic in the middle of a thunderstorm!” Every bend in the road where we could get a look at the sky, I had my eyes fixed on the dark gray masses which moved slowly and held tightly to the mountains. Off and on it poured rain on us all the way to Mile Marker 241.1.
Yet, in spite of the weather and my fears, when we finally arrived through the fog, there you were. Not just one or two of you hearty souls, but a whole group of you sitting with your chairs in a wide circle with tables loaded full of delicious food for the picnic. As we circled and began to pray, the sun broke through the clouds; the weather cleared; and it was the perfect day for a picnic!
On that rainy, sunny afternoon, I witnessed more of who you are as a church. I saw this group of folks who were happy, relaxed, and just delighted to be together, in spite of the storms around them. I saw a group of folks who knew there was a church picnic so they showed up. Even a few of you would point to the clouds or hear the thunder in the distance and say, “That’s not coming this way.” And it didn’t!
It’s a lesson worth hanging onto as you move through the changes that are happening in the life of this congregation and in the world around us! There may be storms with heavy rains and winds that come along, but something changes when you show up for one another. Something changes when you gather as a group, and just be the church in spite of it all.
As we held hands and prayed in the sunlight, I knew that God was blessing far more than the food that afternoon. God was blessing each one of us beyond our understanding in the hands that we held and in all those around the circle—and in the extended circle of this whole congregation.
May God bless you all,