Today I looked out into the congregation and back into the choir loft and saw some of our everyday saints wearing glow stick necklaces as "halos." They rested in grey curls and on balding heads. They came to coffee hour. They brought joy.
Some of the wearers keep the garden nice; one teaches a Sunday School class for special needs adults; others worked as the amateur construction crew for my office; one scrubs things that need it without being asked.
One has shared her musical gifts in our choir for over 60 years, since she started coming to church as a high school student. People clapped spontaneously when I said her name.
The children helped me distribute the halos, but the final two I took out into the congregation myself. I tried not to look directly at this couple while I spoke about them, but I could see from their faces that they had no idea I might be talking about them.
"At every cottage meeting," I said, "someone mentioned, and sometimes more than one someone, that when they first came to this church, they felt especially welcomed by two people." I know that wherever I go, I will remember meeting Archie and Lois on my first day at First Parish, patron saints of welcome. Archie grew up at the church, and Lois came there as a young bride. Over the years, they have worked hard for the church in many, many ways. But this gift of theirs is special. Many of us can paint or knit or cook, but we do not all have the gift of embodying welcome to all who come through the door. For their ministry of hospitality, going back over 50 years, we celebrated Archie and Lois today.