Unexpected Spirit: This is What Church Looks Like!

Unexpected Spirit: This is What Church Looks Like!

The theme for General Synod 30 is "Unexpected Places"...which encourages us to notice God in the unexpected. I love this.

In my experience, church and God and Spirit and faith happen more freely and vulnerably in the unexpected. In fact, in my congregation, Old North Church of Marblehead, we constantly try to notice what church looks like--and we find church in the most unexpected moments. Like, showing up for the cheeseburger lunch special at Maddies' Sail Loft on a snow day where you have trudged through knee deep snow and finding a remnant of your church family with whom you can share fries and fellowship!  Or, church looks like deacons maneuvering a congregant in her wheelchair up a narrow flight of stairs because the elevator has konked out. You get it, right?

So I have been trying to be present to church in these past 24 hours. Looking and listening for it in the unexpected places. Like, unexpectedly standing close to a conversation about the SCOTUS ruling on same-gender marriage, where a woman celebrated that now her marriage and now recent widow-hood is recognized across the land. It was a tender, teary moment. Church was in the unexpected humor when, during the first plenary, we learned we actually were going to NEED the voting clicker thingys to vote, and our Conference Minister.... well, let's just say they hadn't been handed out to the delegates. So, we used our hands to vote, with delight and teasing. Church was in the unexpected hearing of a familiar laugh of my dear first friend ever in seminary, and turning around and seeing her, after not being connected for the past 3 and half years. Church was in discovering that the very first baby I ever baptized, 15 years ago, is actually here, right now, in this place and I can't wait to meet her, again, before the week is out.

I am so grateful to get to think about all of this unexpected grace, and how our UCC is a space for the Unexpected Spirit of God to show up, breathe in and out of us, and move us to unexpected places and decisions that make the kin-dom of God a little more real, a little more like church in our world home today.


Karla Miller

The Rev. Ms. Karla Miller is Interim Associate Pastor at First Church in Marblehead (Old North Church).  

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