Grief and Joy

I marveled at the large crowd at yesterday’s prayer service at the County Building. That the service was planned at 2 p.m. yesterday, announced after 2:30 and by 5:30 there was a strong crowd of people ready to stand together and pray is the result of both people wanting an outlet for our heavy hearts and of the growing interconnectedness facilitated by Helping Florence Flourish. People rose above what often puts us into factions and united around a common purpose: a prayerful response to an awful community tragedy.

This morning I was part of a very different ecumenical service. All Saints school invited four local pastors to participate in their annual Blessing of the Animals service. We opened with a prayer centered on the tragedy of this week, but the heaviness was lifted by the fun of celebrating the companionship and joy that pets bring to families’ lives. It was nice to do something light together after doing something heavy together yesterday.

The juxtaposition reminds me that life is always like that – grief and joy are not oppositional emotions cordoned off from one another, but are complementary, often found in the same experience. That’s how Rev. Calvin Robinson could greet me with a bright smile and bear hug before and after the service yesterday and then speak through tears during the service. Both were true to who he is and what he is experiencing these days. Many of us have those competing emotions as we consider the horror of what happened Wednesday, the ongoing sorrow and revelations, and the gracious good that has emerged despite the horrible acts.

This Sunday morning in worship we’ll consider other weighty matters (Mark 10:2:16), hopeful words (Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12), and graces (the connections deepened to Jesus and one another through Holy Communion). We’ll celebrate those who enhance our worship experiences with their music (during the 10 a.m. fellowship time in Spears). And, Sunday afternoon, we’ll have the opportunity to bless more animals at Lucas Park (please come to the Santee Drive end of the park) at 4 p.m. The combination will make for a rich and meaningful day. I hope you’ll be part of it!