May I tell you how much I love your kids?
I love their squeals of laughter after church, when they run around chasing each other in the fellowship hall.
I love the happy baby gurgles in the silent moments of the liturgy.
I love their questions, challenging our assumptions on belief and theology and grace.
I love their colorful outfits, declaring a silent independence from parental supervision on wardrobe selections.
When you bring your children forward to be baptized, and Brian asks the congregation to verbally agree to support that child’s spiritual formation and development, I take that vow seriously.
However, if I am going to be completely truthful, I have not always appreciated your children as I do now. As a single woman in my thirties, my daily life is filled with boardrooms and suits and airports. Intown’s pews--filled with young, growing families--has not related to my life at all.
My perspective changed a little over a year ago when several tragedies hit my family. My 28-year-old cousin put her two kids down for an afternoon nap under their grandparents' care, grabbed an ice cream sandwich, and went out for a break on her new longboard. She fell off and hit her head, and a week later we watched her spirit slip away into heaven.
Shortly thereafter, I lost an uncle from a complication to a very routine surgery. Two months later, another uncle found out he had cancer nine days before he also passed away. Three months after that, I lost my 35-year-old cousin to a heart attack.
Throughout this year of unforeseen tragedy, the prayer corner at Intown has been my safe haven. Nearly every Sunday, tears filled my eyes during communion, and I found great solace in the care of your prayers.
During this difficult year, I stopped looking at myself as a 30-something single woman who did not fit into the culture of this church. Rather, I began looking at myself as a 30-something single woman who was deeply intertwined into struggles and pain of those all around me. How many of us really are the ideal parishioner? We're fathers and mothers, widows and widowers, single and married, lonely and frazzled, yet we all come together on Sunday morning and lift our voices together in the beautiful, mystifying act of worshipping a God who is redeeming and healing us. What a beautiful, humbling thing it is to be a part of such a community.
Last summer, after the fourth family death occurred in June, I decided that I would commit myself wholeheartedly to Intown for the coming school year. I would turn off any voices in my head of criticism or displacement, and completely love on the people of this congregation.
And love on you I have: bending over steaming trays of food at the Rescue Mission, meeting new people visiting us on Sunday mornings, hosting dinners and ballet exhibitions with other women, carrying your burdens in prayer, and celebrating your victories with laughter. I have learned so much about loving Christ and community.
And, beyond all of that, I have learned perhaps the most from your children. In Sunday School they forgive my ukulele skills, singing songs louder to cover my mistakes. They share their faith with each other, answering questions and then turning to ask even deeper questions. And they look at the world with a wide-eyed, faith-filled wonder that we so easily lose in day-to-day life.
To my beautiful, broken, grace-filled Intown Church, thank you for teaching me all that you have about Christ and Faith and Community. I am so grateful for you.