A mess is made whenever people get together.
And I’m amazed how others, but mostly myself, still pretend that any time people get together it will not be a mess, among all the other beautiful and stunning things that it always is as well, of course.
But beyond that mess, ever present and reliable, is something deeper and a little more true. Beyond the inevitable mess made when people get together is a promise that people stay together, in one way or another, in the mess of it all. And sometimes staying together means staying physically housed together. Sometimes it means continuing to work together.
And sometimes it means taking the pieces of each other that, as much as we thought or intended or assumed would do otherwise, still stick to us and move into new worlds and new places and new possibilities with those sticky pieces of where we come from and what we are made of.
It’s bound to us in the same way our family name is bound to us and the heritage of our story and trial and DNA are bound to us. Like it or leave it, this is where we have come from, and this is who we are.
This morning, I had the chance to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the church I was raised in. And while time has passed and circumstances have moved faster than passing time, I was struck by the celebration of the organist who has played at that church for the last fifty years. He was playing the organ for the church when my parents met, when they were married, when I was born, when I chose to commit to the faith, when I graduated, and when it was time for me to move on.
His service is marked by a long-time faithfulness to the ins and outs of the messiness of people and groups of people just as much as his long-time faithfulness to the celebration of all that is good and true in a congregation. And today, as he marched up the platform stairs with his cane to receive a gift of appreciation for his fifty-year service, I was caught emotionally off guard. His walk up the stairs reminded me of the value of the mess, and the occasional times of not-messiness, that happen when people get together, and what it can mean to see things through.
But moreso, it reminded me of the goodness of looking back, half a century later, and seeing that the work continues, and the call continues, and the kingdom still comes. Mess and no mess. God works through his people toward kingdom come on earth as in heaven.
So to Bobby, from the heart of my bottom as he would say, thanks for your longtime service, and for the reminder that the world goes not well, but the kingdom comes.