One of the things I’ve been chewing on a lot lately is what church might look like when we resume in-person gatherings. I am reminded of something my best friend Elaine and I did one summer. There was an old crab apple tree in my back yard that e had provided shade for a log cabin “playhouse” my sisters had enjoyed. It became a “fort” for us. We decided that it would be really cool to create a tree house to be installed above it. So we borrowed some of my dad’s tools, and scrounged around for material. We found an old rattan hamper, with a solid wood bottom that became the base for the tree house. We repurposed some old two-by-fours for the sides, working through the day. My dad stopped by several times to check on our progress, never saying a word, aside from asking us how it was going, and shaking his head. We even used some old green paint that we thought would help to camouflage the tree house, so we spent another day and painted it. Dad stopped by again, to shake his head.
Finally, when the paint was dry, we were ready to install the tree house. It was then that we discovered we had a problem. We had built it on the ground rather than trying to piece it together hanging from a limb, a reasonable precaution, after all. But what we hadn’t thought about was how we would get that baby up in the tree. We tried lifting it up between the two branches that we were going to put it on, but it was too heavy. We tried levering it up using old clothesline slung around a branch as a pully to no avail. And my dad stopped by and shook his head.
We finally realized that we needed to tear the thing apart, and build it, piece by piece up in the branches, which we did. The end result was nothing as grand as we’d built on the ground. But we did it – and it was just fine. And my dad smiled.
Resuming in-person gathering for worship feels a bit like building that old tree house. We have lots of pieces of worship which we can use, but we aren’t yet exactly sure how to get them into the tree. I image God shaking his head like my dad did, waiting for us to figure it all out, supporting us, encouraging us, patiently enjoying all the effort we are putting into the work, waiting to see what we end up with. We might need to take some of it apart, but in the end, we will figure it out. And God will smile.
Smiling at the memory – and the looking to the futu.re ~ Anne