In the roundabout, take the 7th exit was the counsel of my electronic coach and road advisor on Sunday morning as I whizzed around in circles on an alternate route to church. My navigator and the attendant satellite had conspired to see that traffic was directed away from the US Naval Observatory, the residence of Vice President Harris, where busloads of asylum seekers were dropped off, instead of the usual destination of Union Station to await processing by volunteers and immigration officials.
Driving in DC is something that I learned to do when my daughter was an undergrad at Howard University, 20 years ago. My attention is not as focused as it was then, and my post pandemic confidence is still growing. Admittedly, the navigator voice had to compete with the Larnelle Harris gospel serenade, “There Is A Mighty Spirit” on this penultimate drive from the beaches on Maryland’s Western Shore to Cleveland Park.
With clear instructions repeating, “In the roundabout, take the 7th exit”, I debated in my mind, “Would that be Connecticut Ave? Or P Street?” Because, who’s counting, right?
Seriously, a Sabbatarian, I heard the instructions but wondered where I would end up if I simply took the exit that “felt right.” What if I took the 3rd exit? And anyway, who’s counting today, right?
Sunday is for engaging the deeper sensibilities and spiritual awareness that often lie dormant on the days when precise, strategic decisions are made…tempered with a bit of faith. Sunday is not my most practical day. It is the day that I get to be less guarded, having learned early on that Sunday is to be spent only in the safety and vulnerability of worship with a sacred community.
I took, maybe, the fifth exit after circling the roundabout multiple times considering all the possibilities for each exit. Somewhere inside, I know that the God who keeps me from day to day is on exits 1 through 6, as well. I came off before the 7th exit because I had been in the roundabout long enough to exit with assurance that God would meet me in whichever exit beckoned me.
And you know what? God did exactly that!
Everything within the navigator immediately recalculated to offer journeys to my desired destination at Cleveland Park Congregational UCC. I passed the inscriptions of colorful Arabic writing that whisper a warm “As-salaam alaykum.” I responded, “Wa-Alaikum–Salaam.” The statue of Mandela, (in a tailored suit of Western culture and the awesomely coiffed afro), with a raised fist of power and freedom was coming into view. I could see the law enforcement presence near the US Naval Observatory, along with camera set-ups and media paraphernalia.
Arriving to the sweet, melodic voices of the CPC Choir with guest accompanist, Sonya Sutton, wafting from the beautiful ornate windows, I was there to bring a word from the Lord, just in time to step into the chancel, to share with and experience this community of compassion and faithfulness.
You, Church, have my fullest gratitude as we welcome our beloved Pastor Ellen Jennings on this next Communion Sunday! Our Moderator, Bruce Grimes, has been my right hand throughout this sabbatical. Caly McCarthy preached, sang, offered scriptural exhortations and liasioned when necessary. I am grateful for the liturgical planning gifts of Meg Hanna House, as a weekly thought partner.
There are too many to thank for all that has been made possible. Just be assured that whatever exit you must take our Sovereign is waiting to undergird your journey and bring you in safely. I am certain that God has been glorified in our worship and work together!
As first partaker, I pray that it has been as much a blessing to each worshipper, to each of you, as it has been to me. For this, we give thanks and praise. God be with you ‘til we meet again.