Today we took church to the sheltered housing complex. Granted a significant few church folk we absent, being away on holiday or attending to major family issues, but all in all, including guests, forty of us managed to fit into the lounge, three times adding a new front row in the process and then having a 'behind the speaker' row because there was nowhere else to fit chairs in what is a rather oddly shaped room. A couple of folk joined us part way through the service and one arrived just in time for tea - innocently enough, and was thrilled to be given a plate of sandwiches.
About 15 of those present were from our lunch club and, apart from one, have no other church connection. It was touching, though not surprising given the hymn choices, that many of them felt safe enough to weep a little during some of the singing. It was also great that a couple of them steadfastly stood for all the hymns when even my own folk remained seated. It was pure joy to see them enjoying fellowship with chapel folk.
At the end of the event I was asked by my retired - but still keeping the books for 3 months - treasurer if there were any expenses to be met. I was thrilled to be able to say no, that everything had been given (wow, what a change from four years ago!) but actually here is some money one or two of the guests had insisted on giving it us as a thank you for their tea.
It was a day of hard work. No sane minister loads their car with chapel crockery, plated sandwich teas and folding chairs to go out to lead worship. Few congregations have folk who will up sticks and go to a different venue in lieu of their ordinary service. And I guess there are few folk in sheltered housing who leave worship with tomorrow's tea plated and ready to put in the fridge. It was good, and it made my soul sing.