Last Sunday was a particularly difficult Sunday for me. You see, we had guest musicians. Their music style is bluegrass/gospel? I'm not great on my musical genres. This group comes once a year. My mom loved their music. She loved our traditional hymnody too. But this, this first time this group was here and she wasn't. Well, it was rough. Thankfully, they saved "I'll fly away" for their very last song, when I felt more free to let the tears run down my cheeks even as I sang along.
I'm the pastor and didn't really feel like sobbing during worship would be okay. But I also realized that in worship is normally when I can cry. In worship is when I grieve. That's been the case over and over in my life. In worship, I can let the tears spill down my cheeks AND be comforted by the promises of God as I do. But when I'm the one leading worship, I've got to bite my lip and not let the tears keep coming.
Many of my loved ones have died, and I've had those worship places to grieve their losses when they were most heavy. The other losses I still carry, but a tear or a slight catch in my throat is all that usually happens in worship. But Mom, well, Mom's loss is so fresh. And it occurred to me Sunday, that I am so connected to her in worship--especially in this space.
My mom was a model of faith for me. We were always at church--always. She worked there for years, only after having volunteered there for many more. So many of my memories of my childhood involve sitting with her in the same pew. I'm convinced, though she wasn't, that had she been born a generation later, she'd have become a pastor.
And most recently, despite my objections, she joined my congregation 3 years ago when she moved to my town to be caregiver for my children. It cost her a pastor because she had a daughter. But it gave me so much. It gave me my mom sitting in the same worship space as me again. It gave me her faith--her guidance. I was able to ask her opinion about which Bible Study to pick, or if my newsletter article made sense before I sent it to print, or if the creative worship I planned wasn't *too* crazy for my fairly traditional congregation. I was able to see her sharing her faith again and helping my daughter learn to read from the hymnal--just as she did with me. I got to see her faith in action a few more times.
But not that long ago, we held her funeral in this very same space. It was a beautiful funeral--everything I could have hoped for in a funeral. That was the last time she was in that worship space with me.
And so Sunday was just so hard.