This past Sunday I led the worship service. Now, I've done this before of course, this is my fifth summer solstice as a Religious Educator, but this RE Sunday was different. The RE Celebration Sundays that I had been involved with as a child, as a parent as a RE Committee member and as a DRE had all been pretty straight forward "kids perform, classes present about what they did this year, teacher recognition, DRE appreciation, sometimes teacher recruitment for the following year, sometimes a bridging ceremony. But pretty much "let's show off for the adults!"
It has been combined with Flower Communion the past four years. And yes, we were always there until about Monday afternoon.
I was kind of done with that.
So this year, inspired by the LREDA Fall Con and a successful Thanksgiving Multi-Gen worship,we shoved all past convention aside. And we made a lovely multi gen RE Sunday!
I happen to work with an amazing Music Director, she's just amazing. Did I mention? Amazing. She's musically talented, of course. But she's got this lovely sense of drama, timing, and what's going to work. So she told me I was crazy, but said it in a nicer way--to have a six-year-old cellist play the prelude, and she was right. She responded to my Friday afternoon email with no fewer than FIVE exclamation points in the first line with "no problemo" and she had our choir, two youth and the minister and I perform (with help on the refrain from the congregation) the third movement "All Lifted Hearts" from Jason Shelton and Kendyl Gibbon's Sources Contata.
The Cantata took my breath away at GA last summer, my son too. We both knew we wanted to do this at home with our congregation. Our wonderful Music Director made it happen.
So our service opened with the Green Day song "Good Riddance, Time of Your Life" with electric guitars on "distortion" and yes, they were my sons. We sang "Come Sing a Song With Me" but didn't sing the verse with "Come Do Laundry With Me". We had a lovely "movie for all ages" with a short slide show and movie overview of each class, the RE Council and youth events. We had good joys and sorrows with children sharing along with the adults.
We had a lovely prayer with improv on piano by our (did I mention amazing?) music director--I read the first and last verse of "May Nothing Evil Cross This Door" and then we turned down the lights and had the cantata. Wow--narrated by amazing youth with James Earl Jones voices. And yes I had to sing the refrain at the very tip top of my vocal range and sometimes beyond that, but I did it with the help of the lovely minister I work with. I stood there and watched people close their eyes, tears streaming down their faces. Beautiful. It was just beautiful.
There was a brand spanking new bridge finished the night before by my dear husband with a lovely bridging ceremony. We had a nice half-a-homily along the theme of "Turning" directed to the adults, youth, children and families. And then we had an offertory accompanied by a women's ensemble and lovely soloist singing "Turn Around" no, there was not one dry eye in the sanctuary. Then, well, a quick Emily Dickenson poem read by a fourth grader, and our chalice was out and we were singing the "Amens".
Good service. One short hour. All children engaged for the whole time. And it was lovely.
It is an honor, how could it not be?!