I learned this beautiful Hebrew word, dayenu, when I organized a Seder supper for my church. It means, “it would have sufficed” or “it would have been enough.” It is part of a beautiful liturgy that recounts the liberating deeds of the Lord and how any one of the acts God did would have been enough. For instance, if God had only saved the Israelites from the pharaoh and not brought them through the sea, dayenu. And it was through that Seder, that I finally found a word that encompassed Eastside Church for me.
If only the Holy Spirit had not left me alone, it would have been enough. I had a really great plan second year of seminary. I was a pastor’s kid in seminary who felt/feels called to chaplaincy, and I was told my second year contextual education placement needed to be in a church. So I picked a lovely church for myself, one with good pastors, a big staff, lots of stuff going on, but I picked it to prove that I didn’t want to work in the church. This is one, a poorly designed experiment, and two, bad sportsmanship. Thankfully the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me be with either, and after a chance encounter with Eastside Church and a few great conversations with their head pastor (And a conversation with the empathetic pastor of the other church), I was onboard for a church plant adventure that turned my understanding of what church could be upside down.
If only God had renewed my love for the church, it would have been enough. It would have been more than enough to be that excited about going to church again, about developing a ministry team, and even about planning and running meetings. My eyes were opened to some of the resentment I carried from being a PK, and I was able to let it go and embrace the gift of church again, and enjoy the gift of a new, loving and welcoming church family.
If only God had renewed my love for the church, and not allowed me to work on the justice ministry, it would have been enough. I came into my time at Eastside as a really useful PK. I could be asked to do things at the last minute. I didn’t need lots of instructions, and I knew what could be talked about in front of the congregation — in short, I was well trained. What I was not use to was being given free reign. The first time I went to check in on a decision I was making for the start of the justice team to be told, “I trust you, do what you think is best,” opened up channels for pastoral leadership I didn’t know I had. I transitioned from pastors kid to having authority in the church.
If only God had allowed me the joy of the justice ministry, and not introduced me to my fiancé, it would have been enough. If it seems a little corny, perhaps it is, but it wasn’t simple either, and it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. I met him that first day I walked into Eastside, he was the head pastor’s younger brother. I have not been allowed to forget that upon starting work at Eastside I said I was looking forward to working with the lead pastor, but wasn’t sure I could work with his brother. At first this was true, we fought over Advent candle readings, but then we started running together, learned we worked really well together and ultimately were half of an exploratory trip to Haiti, and came out liking each other more.
And it would have been enough. Any one of these events would have been enough. To fall in love, to fall back in love with the church, to discover a church home, and to lead in uncovering a justice ministry. How does one begin to say thank you for that? How do I continue to live into that gift? For the Holy Spirit that will not leave us alone, for a God who offers greater banqueting tables of abundance than we would ever dare pull up a chair to ourselves, for more than enough. Dayenu, it would have been enough, it would have been more than enough for me…