Monday, June 10, 2013

The Loneliest Day

Yesterday was Children's Sunday and--as usual--it was fantastic.  The kids were great.  the picnic afterward was fun.  We even tolerated the inconveniences of the current building project (full strip and paint) with good humor.  When I got home, however, all I wanted to do was sleep...for a week or so. 

While not officially the case, yesterday's service is viewed by a majority of the congregation as the end of the regular "church year".  Sunday School is over until September, after all, and people are preparing for their summer plans.  The old joke about God going to the Cape around this time of year still has some currency in our church, with many people either travelling or staying put somewhere else for long periods of time.  Still, even the folks who stay around aren't always able to see their way to the church doors until after Labor Day.  I am conscious that over the past few weeks (some church members didn't make it to the picnic), I have said goodbye to a part of my community that I will not see for a relatively long time.  I know they will be back but it is hard on a guy who likes to have people around and misses them when they are not. 

It is the end of a great year with great memories.  It is one for the books.  However, the "new thing" hasn't started and I am recovering from the old thing that ended.

 I am very aware of how my job changes in those hours immediately following clean up.  Now we are in planning mode.  Yesterday's service--as it always does--marked significant changes for our community.  Our DRE/Assistant/Associate Minister for Religious Education is moving on.  So, too, is the person who ran our Confirmation Class.  Our K-2 teacher is helping with a different ministry among us (one you will hear about on the blog I assure you).  We have interviewed a potential Ministerial Intern.  The office is being re-organized.  The church is a construction zone.  Ultimately it falls to me and to the tireless lay leaders to put everything together.  Not everyone goes away for the summer and we have a dedicated group keeping things going while looking toward the future.

 I won't say we put things "back together" because each year is different.  In a small congregation with a seasonal schedule, every summer feels like a new church start.  There are some great things about this, but it is a quick gear change.  It makes me moody.  Normally I try to be all studious and "Sabbath-like" today, but I think I am going to work through it.  Otherwise I will spend it staring out the window and sighing deeply, which is not terribly healthy, is it? There is a whole lot to do...

1) Summer Services: I am preaching this upcoming Sunday.  The next few weeks are a sort of transitional phase with regular-length worship that slowly changes as the summer takes hold.  On July 7, however, we officially go to our summer format.  I will preach most of these services as well.  They are shorter and more casual.  They are also more experimental.  They are all designed to be intergenerational.  I love planning them.  They have been a recurring topic on this blog.  I will include some links for you below...

2) Ukulele Orchestra: Yeah, this is where the K-2 teacher went.  I am looking for a way to diversify the music and worship options at Eliot while also trying to find ways for adults and kids to interact in non-stuffy ways.  This is what I came up with.  The vision is to get a pilot going for adults and high school kids, then to expand it.  Since music in the summer is mostly played on stringed instruments, it seemed like a good idea to start thinking about it now.

3) Fall Planning: Actually, #1 and #2 fall into this category as well.  Things we try in the summer often find their way into the regular services, too.  However, there are other issues.  Volunteers need to be recruited, Interns oriented, ministries altered.  I have Youth Groups to think about.  There is a lot in the air right now.

However...I am not panicking. The church has managed to muddle through somehow since 1828 and it will do so now.  By September I do not doubt that there will still be some hanging chads.  Still, mostly we will have a plan and will hit the ground running.  This is my 13th summer planning for church.  It is my 10th at Eliot.  We will be fine even if it seems a bit chaotic in June.

Today--on the loneliest day of the year--I will make some calls and send some emails.  I will start getting some balls rolling and I know that there are other church leaders--at Eliot and elsewhere--doing the same.  Then I will drive the kids around...and at some point, I have to tune all my cheap ukes.  We have plans, after all, and they will not wait....

Ok so here are some Burbania Posts links about...

Summer Services at Eliot: "Ukulele Hymns and Summer Worship" was written two summer ago and fairly accurately describes the philosophy behind our summer series.

"Summer Worship and Summer Music" is from last summer and talks about what I have learned about leading music during these more free-flowing services.

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