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Musings 6/10/2020 Balloons in Church

I recently was on a Zoom call. Before mid-March I had never started any story like that but now it seems I start conversations like that all the time. This week’s Midweek Musing is indeed based on rich conversation over a Zoom call. It was a conversation with people I mostly do not know. This Zoom Meeting is intended to be a safe space where folks can check in on one another and remind each other that we are not alone, even if we are sometimes lonely in our current environment. I really hope this meeting will continue even after science discovers a treatment or vaccine.

Most of these folks are like me and my family—they have followed CDC guidelines for best practices regarding social distancing, sheltering in place, and wearing masks. They are cooking at home or ordering out. They are avoiding trips to the store. Their faith communities have not yet resumed meeting in person—and at least one individual’s faith community has decided not to even discuss meeting again until the end of September.

As part of the discussion, we talked about some of the things we are looking forward to doing again when we return to face to face interactions. It occurred to me that when we are able to gather once again in person, I am planning for us to have a celebration. And while I do not know when it will occur or what all it will include, I do know it will include laughter, and music, food and…

It will include lots of brightly colored balloons.

My inspiration for this comes from the late Presbyterian poet Ann Weems, whose poem I share with you below. I hope it will bring a smile, even in today’s troubled world, and remind us all that as a people of hope we will look forward with joyful anticipation to that promised day of restoration and reconciliation. And as we claim that hope, may we remember the words of the great Czech Republic poet and leader Vaclav Havel who stated, “Hope is the deep orientation of the human soul that can be held at the darkest times.”

May we have such hope.


by Ann Weems

I took to church one morning a happy four-year-old boy

Holding a bright blue string to which was attached

his much loved orange balloon with pink stripes...

Certainly a thing of beauty

And if not forever, at least a joy for a very important now.

When later he met me at the door

Clutching blue string, orange and pink bobbing behind him,

He didn't have to tell me something had gone wrong.

"What's the matter?"

He wouldn't tell me.

"I bet they loved your balloon..."

Out it came, then -- mocking the teacher's voice, "We don't bring balloons to church."

Then that little four-year old, his lip a little trembly, asked:

"Why aren't balloons allowed in church? I thought God would like balloons."

I celebrate balloons, parades and chocolate chip cookies.

I celebrate seashells and elephants and lions that roar.

I celebrate roasted marshmallows and chocolate cake and fresh fish.

I celebrate aromas: bread baking, mincemeat, lemons...

I celebrate seeing: bright colors, wheat in a field, tiny wild flowers...

I celebrate hearing: waves pounding, the rain's rhythm, soft voices...

I celebrate touching: toes in the sand, a kitten's soft fur, another person...

I celebrate the sun that shines slab dab in our faces...

I celebrate the crashing thunder and the brazen lightning...

And I celebrate the green of the world...the life-giving green...the hope-giving green...

I celebrate birth: the wonder...the miracle...of that tiny life already asserting its selfhood.

I celebrate children

who laugh out loud

who walk in the mud and dawdle in the puddles

who put chocolate fingers anywhere

who like to be tickled

who scribble in church

who whisperin loud voices

who sing in louder voices

who run...and laugh when they fall

who cry at the top of their lungs

who cover themselves with bandaids

who squeeze the toothpaste all over the bathroom

who slurp their soup

who chew coughdrops

who ask questions

who give us sticky, paste-covered creations

who want their picture taken

who won't use their napkins

who bury goldfish, sleep with the dog, scream at their best friend

who hug us in a hurry and rush outside without their hats.

I celebrate children

who are so busy living they don't have time for our hangups

And I celebrate adults who are as little children.

I celebrate the man who breaks up the meaningless routines of his life.

The man who stops to reflect, to question, to doubt.

-- The man who isn't afraid to feel....

The man who refuses to play the game.

I celebrate anger at injustice

I celebrate tears for the mistreated, the hurt, the lonely...

I celebrate the community that cares... the church...

I celebrate the church.

I celebrate the times when we in the church made it...

When we answered a cry

When we held to our warm and well-fed bodies a lonely world.

I celebrate the times when we let God get through to our hiding places

Through our maze of meetings

Our pleasant facade...deep down to our selfhood

Deep down to where we really are.

Call it heart, soul, naked self

It's where we hide

Deep down away from God

And away from each other.

I celebrate the times when the church is the Church

When we are Christians

When we are living, loving, contributing God's children...

I celebrate that He calls us His children even when we are in hiding.

I celebrate love...the moments when the You is more important than the I

I celebrate the perfect love...the cross...the Christ

loving in spite of...

giving without reward

I celebrate the music within a man that must be heard

I celebrate life...that we may live more abundantly...

Where did we get the idea that balloons don't belong in the church?

Where did we get the idea that God loves gray and Sh-h-h-h-h

And drab and anything will do?

I think it's blasphemy not to appreciate the joy in God's world.

I think it's blasphemy not to bring our joy into His church.

For God so loved the world

That He hung there

Loving the unlovable

What beautiful gift cannot be offered unto the Lord?

Whether it's a balloon or a song or some joy that sits within you waiting to

have the lid taken off.

The Scriptures say there's a time to laugh and a time to weep.

It's not hard to see the reasons for crying in a world where man's hatred for

man is so manifest.

So celebrate!

Bring your balloons and your butterflies, your bouquets of flowers...

Bring the torches and hold them high!

Dance your dances, paint your feelings, sing your songs, whistle, laugh.

Life is a celebration, an affirmation of God's love.

Life is distributing more balloons.

For God so loved the world...

Surely that's a cause for Joy.

Surely we should celebrate!

Good News! That He should love us that much.

Where did we ever get the idea that balloons don't belong in the church?

Might I simply add – Let the church say AMEN!


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