" H e y   A l l "
           Notes from the Vicar of Grace
              inclusion service discovery gratitude
The Rev. Bill Harper

Dear Friends--

I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts-and practical details-as we prepare to celebrate Hannah Hunt's life.  And, I'm sending this note to the Grace Church community, and to that broader community of love and support that has been formed through Hannah's CaringBridge network.  Of course many of you will then receive this twice, and that's OK, I'm sure.  I'm grateful that Bill and Reba are willing to weave this note in with the deep and rich tapestry they have woven over several years of CaringBridge posts.   A review of those letters and reflections reminds us again that we have been blessed by Hannah's life, and the gracious way her family shared her with us.

So, as we can easily imagine, this large community of love and support will bring us a very full house on Sunday.  Simply put, we know that we will run out of both seats and parking-but will not run out of room, welcome and chocolate cake.  To accommodate this full gathering here are some practical notes:

1.      Parking and Arrival:  we will have space available not only at Grace, but also at Island School and at Sage Manufacturing across Day Road.  We'll need all of it.  If you can arrive early, try parking at Sage and Island School, thereby (graciously!) making some space available for those who arrive later, and are feeling a bit rushed.  Parking along the Grace road is possible, but only on the west (Island School) side.  That way we leave a lane for travel, and we don't block the lights, which we'll be grateful for as we return to our cars.   Yes, a small flashlight for returning to your car could be useful.  In terms of arrival time, an hour early makes some sense, but earlier than that is likely too early.  On the other hand, if we all arrive at 5, then it'll be quite a rush at that moment!

2.      Seating: We will have seating for about 450 in the church.  After that-well, there will be room to stand, and that will be just fine!  We'll squeeze, and shift, make it work.  And our sound system carries through the whole building, so hallways and classrooms will still feel connected. 

3.      Kids and Grace:  Those who know Grace know that children are simply and perfectly part of who we are.  Our Nursery will be staffed for the youngest kids, and older children will find themselves welcome in the service and in classrooms.

4.      Service and Reception: Hannah wanted a "celebration" and "cake."  Enough said!  She would expect us to figure it out from there-and we have.  The service will be simple, honest, with heartfelt music.  And it will not be long . . . we think Hannah assumed we would not prolong the time it would take to get to the cake.  Many, many hands have baked and frosted, and added a few more items.  We will have people serving and passing.  When the service ends we can all  help clear the extra chairs and create room and space for us to gather, eat, settle-and tell the stories we long to hear, and offer the comfort and support we all need.  Following the service, a lovely slideshow of photos and music will scroll continuously on the "big screen" in the sanctuary.  Yes, we can settle back in with cake and coffee and enjoy some wonderful images.

 And that leaves me with one last thought.  We will gather on Sunday because we know and love Hannah.  And her family.  We will come from many backgrounds and beliefs, and we will likely be challenged by more questions than our experience and faith can answer.  Frankly, that's just the simple truth of life-that life itself is bigger and sometimes harder than we have room in hearts to handle.  I think Hannah figured that out-she understood, on some deep level, that the questions were bigger than the answers.  And she could live with that, while inviting others to do the same.  "Living on" was something she wanted.  We do too, and we will-and she will live with us.  Simple as that.

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