The noise was the first thing that greeted us as we walked up to the Women’s Club. The open door allowed a welcoming light to beam out into the dark parking lot. What we heard from outside the building was nothing compared to the sound that enveloped us as we walked into the light. At first, with all my sensory overload problems, I was a bit taken back by it all. What was probably a good sized room for any meetings normally held there already seemed full yet more continued to come in.
Almost immediately someone recognized us and gave us all big hugs and cheerful greetings. More greetings ensued all the while the sound of the laughter and talking grew exponentially. Tired from the 12 hour drive from St. Louis to Fort Worth (and that beginning at 4 am), I worried that I would not be able to stay in the room for long.
But suddenly, the fog in my head cleared to a degree and I realized that all the sound and the people were filled with a great joy. At that realization, the sound became a symphony rather than a cacophony.
It was Joy filling the room and pushing at the seams of the building, tumbling out through the door and into the cool night air.
This was Christ Mass in a Fort Worth Episcopal parish – Good Shepherd Faith Community in Granbury, Texas – a parish that is now so much more of a community than it was when it was just down the road a ways in its stone building.
This was the joy of celebrating one-ness rather than separation; the joy that comes from focusing on Jesus rather than on selfish desires. This was not pious and self-righteous or full of condemnation for those who disagree; this was about love and sharing that love. It didn’t matter that there was no processional cross or that there were no torches. It didn’t matter that it was a little cramped trying to get to and from communion.
It mattered only that there was abundant Joy at the birth of the newborn baby – and a way to be born again.