Conversations – we have them all of the time. How different they can be, one from another. It so entirely depends on who you are talking to, and what you are talking about ... and then maybe even how long you have been talking!
This Stepping Stone Service reflects this year's Lenten theme "Conversations that Change the World." We decided to explore that but on a smaller scale. Our emphasis has evolved into "Conversations with Jesus: Never Alone." We contemplated things like, "What would it feel like to actually talk to Jesus? How formal would it be? How smart would we need to be? How would we express ourselves? How would we truly listen to his wisdom?"
The truth is, we can merely be ourselves. We go to him as the people we are to ask questions, to ask for help. Maybe we just ask for his good company: "Be with me today." Jesus does answer us. Those who stop to listen know this. "I am here." "I will take care of you." "Fear not!" "I love you." We are never alone.
Our annual "Stepping Stone" walk is an important one. It is good to find a path – a real one, or one in your imagination. It can be a walk around your neighborhood or down a hallway at work. It can be alongside a babbling brook, a grassy field, or any place that comes to your mind. Invite Jesus to come with you. Walk and talk and listen. Use your words, make your gestures, or enjoy the quiet of just walking and thinking. Find the strongest "stepping stones" to hold you as you make your way through solving a problem. Most importantly, remember how blessed you are to have such a loving God.
The evening's music and readings will help you to think about all of these things. The guidelines for our choices started with thinking in the first person. We wanted to create spaces where it was just "Jesus and I." The repertoire was easy to find: Give Me Jesus, Lord; I Want to Be a Christian; Lead Me, Guide Me; and Precious Lord, Take My Hand. Then, we shifted to lyrics about Jesus: You Are My All in All, You Walk with Me, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. Authors we will read during this service include John O'Donohue, Steven Charleston, Nan C. Merrill, Jan Richardson, and scripture.
We want to get close to Jesus. We want to stay the course, trust the journey, arrive safely and happily, and meanwhile, we want to sing and dance! Members of the Chancel Choir will offer inspired renditions of some of our favorites. The congregation will join in the singing, too. Dancer and choreographer Lisa Nicks will treat us to another inspired dance interpretation of one of our songs. She will be joined by Deb Rupp and Gabriel O'Shaughnessy. I am always very happy when Ed Snouffer is at the piano. He adds such beautiful color and emotion to each piece. Communion will also be served, and all are welcome to take part.
Our annual Stepping Stone service is a pretty wonderful way to spend an hour. This year, it is all about you and Jesus. Jesus loves all of us just the way we are. We can hear that and believe it and love Jesus right back. Please join us!