So many thoughts running through my head. (I should search to see how many posts start that way)
Church council meeting tonight - and although there were some great plans made and positive reports about things that we are a part of...it was overshadowing by one particular report. And this time, I'm not just talking about the financial report! But first...the positives:
- the children sang in worship on Palm Sunday and numbered 22!! There are so many kids singing now that we need to dig out (or build new) risers so that they can all be seen. What a wonderful "problem" to have.
- some new volunteers for JIFF are helping provide the one-on-one time that kids need. Sometimes the best moments are when a volunteer just sits in the game room and listens. No special skills needed! Just a good ear or two!
- a prospective Eagle Scout is exploring ways to get the creek behind the parsonage to stop eating away at our land (pesky beavers). And although some of the pragmatists on the council were quick to point out the need to look at things like permits and liabilities (sigh...) - it is the first real step forward in the process in about 5 years.
- we have a 13 year old (who is pretty advanced for his age) who would like to be a lay reader.
- good Easter egg hunt and picnic, great youth outing that included visiting a nursing home, new Heart Havens house in the final stages....and much more! Things are going great.
But there was one report that could only be described as distressing. There was vandalism in the sanctuary last week. Thankfully the damage was relatively minor - but it had the potential to be catastrophic.
The vandal(s) lit and damaged the Christ Candle (a pillar candle lit on Christmas that is used the whole year) and then that flame was used to burn tissues (whose ashes were found on the organ console, the altar and on the pulpit by the Bible) and then apparently used to burn several pencils which were found strewn through the sanctuary.
The lasting damage includes a burn hole in the carpet and direct hit to my trust. When our sweet church secretary found the scene, she was in tears. When I heard about it - I felt physically ill. How could this happen? Why?
As a church council - we wrestled with those questions this evening. And I think we will continue to ponder this as individuals. My initial desire was to find and punish the vandals. But during the discussion tonight I came to realize that justice is not always about punishment. Wise people helped me to understand that we may never know why. We can take steps to help prevent such an act from happening again. And we can attempt to investigate the cause. But we will not be forming a mob to hunt down and condemn the perpetrators. I may never understand what would cause someone to vandalize - not just our church - I don't understand vandalism of anything!
I do know that before I lay my head down to sleep tonight - I am going to have to pray for whoever did this. I will offer up prayers of thanksgiving that the fire did not spread. This could indeed have been much worse than a hole in the carpet. And then I will have to leave the rest to God.