Meet our Interim Pastor Lynda Hyland-Burris - See “Pastor” page under “About”
God’s dream is that you and I and al of us will realize that we are family; that we are made for togetherness, for goodness and for compassion. Desmond Tutu
Have you ever had a moment, or two, or maybe more, where you were surrounded by people, all focused on what was at hand, what was going on, and you stood together in harmony, stunned by our common thread, woven through the gathering, stitching us together?
It happened to me that past weekend, over and over and over again. On Saturday, we celebrated the life of the Rev. Dr. Bob Grove, and without any pre-planning, the stories and memories flowed forth, from his daughter’s words, to people from his youth group in the mid-sixties to a letter written by a 26 year old young man in Bob’s last parish confessing his faith and the man who helped him find it. The choir sang at their very best, and Bob’s grandson, Noah, played guitar and sang songs which brought my heart up into my mouth. The Spirit floated about the room, and everyone felt it, felt the oneness in our purpose.
Then Sunday morning came and the Napa Valley Threshold Choir shared their beautiful “sending out” music, each piece written especially for those who are terminally ill or dying. The service was filled with some of their friends, and family members visiting and others new to Napa, and there was something palpable in the air, as though all our hearts were beating in sync, and people seemed to smile more broadly and look into one another’s eyes. When the service ended and I waited at the door, visitor after visitor commented how wonderful, how warm, how open Covenant church felt to them, and all I could think was “how true”.
In the afternoon, with some members of the Mission Commission, I attended the Napa Valley Farm Workers “El Dia de la Familia”, a resource fair and fiesta held outside St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. The mariachis played their joyful music as people poured out onto the street in the bright sunshine, greeting one another, smiling and laughing. I spent some time with Francisco Lopez, on staff of Puertas Abiertas, the Latino resource agency Covenant has partnered with. I learned about the many classes they are offering for citizenship, English, history, civics. In the minority, I felt embraced by the crowds around me, and was warmly welcomed into their community.
When my daughter and her friend arrived mid-afternoon, we strolled down to Fuller Park, the hub of Porch Fest this year, and it was a scene out of my childhood; people lying on blankets, sitting on lawn chairs, picnicking. The playground was filled with children enjoying the soft summer afternoon. There was a variety of food trucks to choose from, water stations, and music surrounded us on all sides. We listened, we sat, we walked, and listened some more. There were babies and dogs and bicycles and wheelchairs and scooters. We ended the day dancing in the street, together and with total strangers; we took selfies and took pictures of other folks. People of all ages, all colors, joyful and moving as one.
One could say that these events were a collection of happy moments, but truly what threaded them togehter was the presence of God, when I realized that when we bring the best of ourselves, we experience the holy in all of humanity - and what a gift it truly is!