For four days in a row last week, my three-year-old caught me off guard with new things he said or did. He swam a few strokes completely submerged. He adopted perfect shooting form – without instruction – on his Little Tykes basketball goal and started sinking long balls. He looked me in the eye and recited my cell phone number, which I had been planning to teach him but hadn’t gotten around to yet. And he brought a leaf to me and told me it was from a Japanese Maple. (Ok, he was wrong on this last one, but I had no idea until my husband looked up a picture on the internet. I didn’t even know that was a kind of tree.)
I was delighted by and grateful for each of these moments, which were simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary. I replayed them in my head several times. My husband and I talked about them. We made sure our son knew that we had noticed his new feats and knowledge. It was family time worth savoring.
These mini celebrations made me think about the hidden lives of congregations, which are families of sorts. In a church ordinary-yet-extraordinary things happen all the time. Are we marking them? Delighting in them? Giving due thanks for them? Hopefully we are commissioning new leaders, consecrating pledges, and drawing on the gifts of the liturgical calendar. But what about a person’s first time taking communion, speaking in front of the congregation, or inviting a friend to church? Do we “graduate” participants of intensive Bible studies? Do we properly thank outgoing committee chairs and youth sponsors? These milestones are worth noting too. Calling attention to them is a way of saying that God is present among us, that God is pulling us forward in barely-perceptible ways, that we worship a God who offers us joy.
Many of the snapshots in the gospels are of ordinary-yet-extraordinary situations: temple services, conversations among friends, annual festivals. They take place in ordinary-yet-extraordinary places such as around dinner tables, on dusty roads, and in upper rooms. Jesus himself is ordinary-yet-extraordinary, completely one of us, yet completely not. If he is worthy of worship, then these small but significant moments in our corporate lives are surely worth celebrating.
What do you need to delight in this week as an act of worship? May you seek joy, and in doing so, find nurture for your soul and renewed strength for your leadership.