Last Sunday there were four of us - brand new deacons in charge of greeting and welcoming folks as they entered the sanctuary, receiving the offering at the appropriate time, and serving communion as the liturgy of worship unfolded, overseeing the fellowship hour following worship. Newbies! While we had all repeatedly been on the receiving end of all of these services, none of us had performed any of these functions before. It was one of the predictable oddities of a holiday weekend -a lot of the “regulars” with congregational “memory” were away.
We realized very quickly how we needed to function as a team as everyone arrived an hour before worship to get organized. We had all received the same orientation and each of us remembered at least a significant part of it.
We scrambled to locate all that was needed for serving communion -the bread, the chalice and paten, the myriad individual chalices, the linens, the grape juice and the all important “gizmo” for filling each of the tiny communion cups. Outdoor tables needed to be set up for the traditional “Lemonade on the Lawn” outdoor fellowship time post service. Lemonade needed to be mixed - - all in the service of extending an extravagant and welcoming hospitality to a diverse group of incoming worshippers.
Grape juice was spilled - - and graciously cleaned up. Bread was cubed to precisely 3/4 inch portions. Communion cups were filled. Linens were arranged on the communion table. Chalice and paten were made ready for presentation with the morning offering.
None of us knew everything. Together we managed to know enough and everything went so smoothly that no one in the congregation knew they were in the hands of novices. It was an interesting and thought provoking source of reflection on a weekend dedicated to celebrating our Independence.
I found these (edited) thoughts on the CoIntelligence Institute home page:
While independence is a very difficult and important developmental stage -- a dramatic step up from dependence, as anyone who has teens and two-year-olds will tell you -- it is not the ultimate goal of maturity.
Nature is a great model for interdependence. While rabbits are staving off foxly hunger, the foxes are keeping the rabbits from overgrazing their bioregion so that their species can continue to thrive. It all fits, one way or another, in dense webs of interdependence.
When Chernobyl melted down on April 16, 1986, and New York's Twin Towers crashed a thunderous hole in our security on September 11, 2001, we got glimpses of the dark side of our interdependence. And every day, from our front-row mass media seats, we watch global warming, terrorism, COVID and the deaths of oceans and war-torn children unfold.
It seems that the world is trying to tell us something. Perhaps it hopes that demonstrating our INTRINSIC interdependence will stimulate us to CONSCIOUSLY CO-CREATE POSITIVE FORMS OF INTERDEPENDENCE -- mutuality, community, synergy and co-intelligence.
Last Sunday morning our little cohort of “newbies” needed each other. Each of us carried necessary information for the completion of a multifaceted task that none of us could have accomplished on our own - - mutuality, community, synergy, co-intelligence. We needed each other in order to create a harmonious beauty.
Also from CoIntelligence Institute: Interdependence can look like dialogues where we all learn from each other, weaving our lives, stories and hearts together and discovering new understandings and possibilities we could never have found alone.
Interdependence -- if we wake up and live it -- looks like all life working together to enhance all life.
The vision of Interdependence on this Independence Day Weekend seems so much more fitting for the human endeavor. It seems so realistic that I wonder why current political discourse is so intent on trying to homogenize our lives; to eradicate the richness of deep and varied cultural histories; to turn our collective backs on beauty of gender difference; to remove hard won reproductive rights; to render forgotten the complexity of our history going back to that early Declaration of Independence.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow offers this:
Declaring Interdependence:Renewing the 4th of July
We hold these truths to be self evident: That all human beings are born with equal dignity and worth, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: - to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to the sharing of community; to the rhythm of work and shared rest that frees time for family, neighborhood, citizenly service, and spiritual reflection; to a life sustaining share of earth's abundance; to peace among all peoples; and to a responsible relationship amidst the whole web of life upon this planet.