Thursday, October 12, 2023

As a child, I had this picture book, “A Child’s Friend” of Jesus feeding the 5,000. As the story goes, Jesus wanted the disciples to feed a large crowd. They said it would be impossible. But, a boy with them had five small loaves of bread and two small fish. Jesus takes this gift, thanks God for it and uses it to feed over 5,000 people, with leftovers to spare! What puzzled me in the picture book is just how abundant those leftovers were! There were 12 baskets of bread and fish left! Conveying my amazement (and some perplexity) at this story in confirmation class, my pastor gave me a lesson in God’s amazing mathematics. “Twila,” he said, “when we return our gifts to God, they just don’t add up. They multiply!”

As I have begun to serve as Mosaic’s new Vice President of Church Relations and International Programming, I have seen “God’s amazing mathematics” at work in so many places—especially in the Rejoicing Spirits program. Many congregations begin offering Rejoicing Spirits with the sole intent of serving others and creating a worship space which offers complete inclusion. And, indeed, these services are a blessing to those who live with cognitive disabilities. What congregations are delighted to learn, however, is that this gift of service doesn’t just add up—it multiplies! The families and caregivers of these worshipers are equally blessed, as there is no anxiety about receiving stares from worshipers who do not understand the needs of those we serve. The worship and music teams are blessed to see their gifts celebrated with such joy, as worshipers clap, sing and dance with total lack of abandon. I have seen persons join Rejoicing Spirits communities who would never, otherwise, darken the door of a church. I have seen pastors from multiple congregations team up to share leadership and, resultingly, build and strengthen clergy collegiality.

This year, Rejoicing Spirits celebrates its 20th anniversary. 20 years of loaves and fishes. 20 years of “God’s amazing mathematics.” 20 years of watching the blessings of inclusive worship multiply!

May God grant us the vision, capacity and abundance to carry this ministry far into the future.

Rejoicing with you!

Pastor Twila Schock