A more accurate description would be, what gives me joy, but I have started listening to the podcast “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” which usually ends with a piece called “What’s Making Us Happy.” So, in preparation for this coming Sunday’s annual meeting I have been thinking about what phrases make me happy when I hear them said by Trinity members and friends. Here they are:
“It’s okay to let that [program/ministry] die.” We trust that resurrection comes after death, not just on Easter. Sometimes a ministry simply runs its course and that is okay. We are awake to how and where God might be doing the next thing.
“I love being the church with the garden and the houses.” So, this may seem insignificant until you learn that Trinity New Hope affordable housing and Trinity Community Gardens have not existed without some pain and loss. I thank my predecessor pastors and past church leadership for helping create the congregational personality that allowed these two entities to begin and eventually thrive.
“Did you hear what [fill in the name of any toddler] said during worship?” I am so happy that we embrace kids being part of worship life. They are not shushed or sent away. Adults understand their restlessness and want to be part of the village that helps raise them. Kids at Trinity have lots of adopted aunts and uncles and grandparents.
“We could try this [program/ministry/music] for a season.” The people of Trinity Lutheran seem open to just about anything. One wise member looks around the room at the beginning of meetings to make sure some level headed people are present; her way of making sure we do not try something too outrageous. I am so thankful to one of my predecessors who introduced a wide variety of songs and liturgical settings at Trinity. He fostered this culture of learning and growing and transforming.
“Thank you.” We have a very healthy habit of thanking people regularly.
“I love seeing the guests–every week there are guests!” Yes, we should have guests. Idaho has been named the fastest growing state (based on percentages) and a great deal of that growth is happening in Canyon County. Even in 2018, with church attendance still declining nation-wide, it would be weird if new people were not visiting Trinity. But I do not take for granted that the members and friends of Trinity will be excited about guests.
“Pastor, do you have any books about …?” I hauled many books from South Dakota to Iowa to Idaho and have purchased more in the last seven years. It makes me happy that we are a congregation full of life-long learners. I have loaned Biblical commentaries, history books by Pelikan, my biography of Bonhoeffer (the Schlingensiepen one), and many others.
“Sit here while we pray for you.” I am a private introvert who likes to analyze and process and make sense of problems. Yes, I like the idea of prayer and I do pray, but people praying for me, aloud, with me still in the room, that is a growing area. This is one of the most uncomfortable, destabilizing, humbling, awesome, life-giving phrases said to me by our parishioners.