1 november 2015: uneven edges and multiple attempts

I may have mentioned that I’ve been doing some renovating in my kitchen – removing a drop ceiling, new soffits, facelift for counters and cabinets, uncovering buried oak floors, nothing really invasive. No new walls or anything. It’s my winter distraction, a little here, a little there, and I’m hoping to have the whole thing done by Easter. Although that may be a pipe dream. 

This week, I’m installing new trim molding against the new ceiling. Some of the short pieces took multiple tries, as I brushed up on my coping or mitering skills. But the longest piece was most difficult for a variety of reasons: a) it’s just over 7 feet long and I was working alone; b) the ceiling isn’t level, but the trim needed to be. This new ceiling isn’t level because it was installed over two previous layers, which also weren’t level, and, well, you can only do so much. So for the bottom edge of the trim to be level and straight, the top edge had to adjust with the ceiling, which meant some interesting curves. Did I mention I was working alone? Oh, and my jigsaw wasn’t cooperating, so I was doing this piece with a circular saw – designed for straight cuts, definitely not for delicate things. (Think neurosurgery with a machete.) 

I know, that sounds like a disaster to you. But it came together better than I thought it might, and once it’s finished you may not even notice the rough edges buried under the wood filler. At least, that’s my hope. And I try to approach it as a spiritual practice rather than a new career path, so that makes it better. Unlike neurosurgery, perfection was never the goal. 

That’s at home. At church, we’re building something else. Our stewardship theme this year is Building Beloved Community, which is also fun to ponder. 

In worship the past two weeks, I’ve asked you to jot reflections on who inspires you at Woodside, and where here you find community – and where you’d like to. I appreciate your indulgence, and want to share your reflections with the whole congregation. 

I learned that we’re inspired by each other quite broadly: you named our children and our elder;, long-time members and newcomers; those of quiet faith and those of in-the-streets action; artists, musicians and teachers; folks who pray and folks who repair stuff. We’re also inspired by people who aren’t here – vulnerable people who are also our brothers and sisters in need of care; and community leaders who share our values and pursue the common good. 

I learned that we find community and feel connected to one another in just as many ways: by worshiping together on Sundays and in Daybreak; singing together and sharing poetry; by visiting (with coffee and cookies!) after worship; in faith exploration and book groups; by worship planning and serving as a worship leaders; by being in a neighborhood and involved in community issues; by being welcomed warmly on Sundays and gathering socially; by volunteering in the office or helping with special projects; even by cooking and cleaning and serving on committees. 

Then, you had ideas for interesting new ways you’d like to find community: game nights; dinners or potlucks with conversation; small groups for books or study or crafts; economic justice work; prayer walks in the neighborhood; social outings; a song or prayer or drum circle; picnics on the playground; Woodside social media connections; new ways to volunteer. 

See how honest and gracious you all are? How much you love seeking and finding community here? And we will. 

But we’ve called it “building” beloved community. Which suggests uneven edges and multiple attempts and letting our goal be something other than perfection. Woodside is a work in progress. 2015 looks quite different from 2014, which looks different from 2012 and 13. And 2016 is likely to surprise and delight us in new ways. 

We’ve named our inspiration, and offered our thoughts about where we find – and hope to find – community. This week, our final Sunday of our stewardship emphasis, we’re offering our best intentions. And from our intentions, we’ll begin to build. 

So I invite you again. Come to worship, join in this beloved community we’re building. And this week, please bring along your pledge card. We offer ourselves – our time and our possessions – to the holy task, to this beloved community. 

With you on that journey, 

— pastor deb