August 17, 2011

God Moments

In college my friends and I became fond of saying “God works in the Housing Office.”

As I entered my sophomore year and returned to a small suite of rooms in the dorm, I realized an immediate connection with the two first-year students placed next door: our faith. They didn’t know each other either, but Lizzy and Ginny had signed up as roommates upon the suggestion of a mutual friend from Methodist church camp. As a young Episcopalian wondering how to pay attention to God during college, I couldn’t believe the coincidence – or Godincindence – of living alongside two people with whom I could share my faith life.

This original God moment still bears fruit in our deep friendship over 20 years. Lizzy is now an Episcopal priest in Atlanta and Ginny is an active lay leader, and treasurer, of her UCC/Presbyterian congregation in Boston. But these formal church roles are ancillary to the foundation of our relationships. What matters is that we’ve been able – then and now – to share the important God moments in our lives, whether joyful or difficult.

This summer I’ve been visiting a small Episcopal church in rural Massachusetts. While the liturgy is familiar, entering a new community often brings moments of unease by the mere fact that we don’t know the people and local culture. One practice at St. John’s really caught my attention and allowed me to warm to the community. They share “God moments” during the middle of the worship service.

I suspect this is a new practice, because some members are a bit shy to stand and share a significant moment, but each time the vicar has invited people to share highlights of the last week, about three people courageously stood to reflect aloud upon God’s recent presence in their lives. One spoke about a conversation with a neighbor – which resulted in the neighbor going back to church for the first time in years. Another spoke about sitting with a friend during a difficult illness. Yet another spoke about the love he felt when the community participated in a memorial event for his late wife.

These are not just requests for prayers, where reserved Episcopalians (and New Englanders at that!) can offer up a name or situation for others to consider in their petitions. This practice of sharing “God moments” seems to open up a sacred space of vulnerability, awareness, care, and wonder with one another as people reveal the work of the Spirit in their daily lives. As a newcomer, my heart felt more attuned to my sisters and brothers in this little church. It reminds me that sharing our God moments is essential to living and sharing our faith inside and outside the walls of our congregations.

How have you shared your God moments with others? Does your congregation create opportunities for people to share where the Spirit is moving in their lives?