There's a Crack in Everything
I've just returned from a truly wonderful experience of the St. Alban's community - we laughed, we learned, we witnessed.
The event was the annual Parish Weekend. We gathered at the Claggett Retreat and Conference Center in Adamstown, Maryland, on Friday evening. Claggett is a wonderful venue for a parish weekend - it's picturesque, quiet and well designed with modern facilities. Cell phones work, the rooms are quite nice and just steps from your room are views of the rolling Maryland hills, a very cool labyrinth and a nature trail.
On Saturday after Morning Prayer and breakfast we started wading into the theme for the weekend - The Gospel in our Bones; Can Worship Change the Way We Live? We gathered and asked questions like "Why worship?" "How does the liturgy we practice transform us?" Next we looked at the shape of our liturgy in the Episcopal Church; about the juxtapositions (and the tension) inherent in all our liturgies - one being that as people living in the 21st century our worship is centered on book written a very long time ago! Then we talked about the elements of worship; the ordinary things that help us remember the extraordinary story of salvation - a book, a pool for washing, bread and wine. From there we made our way to our ending point which is that, as summarized by one parishioner, when it comes to church "A little bit of leaven goes a long way! (Matt 13)."
The rest of the day on Saturday was open for free time but included arts and crafts, canoeing and a nature hike. We ended the afternoon with Happy Hour then dinner followed by a bonfire with S'Mores and a sing along. Later we gathered together and some played Bananagrams and others told very, very funny stories not suitable for this blog! I hope all of this whets your appetite to sign up for next year's Parish Weekend.
Our time together ended with a closing Eucharist in a barn. It was magical because the barn itself was a visual metaphor for what we had been talking about all weekend - that our liturgies are little pieces of God's light breaking through our darknesses; that they are part of the "slow work of God" that can transform us when we open ourselves to the light.
So here's what we learned:
Does the liturgy we practice allow the light of God to penetrate our hearts such that we live more fully into the call of the Gospel? Yes, it does.
Does a liturgy that celebrates our goodness but juxtaposes our failures compel us to strive to be better and more fully committed to God? Yes, it does...
With so many memories of a great weekend I say to you, see you next year.
And with this picture and as our liturgies (and Leonard Cohen) remind us... "There is a crack in everything... that's how the light get's in."
Happy Monday, see you next year and thank you Megan King!