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Unexpected grace

Nothing was working. Not getting up in the middle of the night to log into the Walgreens site. Not repeatedly checking the portal at my doctor’s office. Not happening to be in a CVS when they started giving away extra shots. I just couldn’t seem to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

And then, in the middle of a busy day, I got a text from Ginger, my pastor’s wife, who is also the church director of Christian education: “Are you 65 and want a vaccine at the Arthur Ashe Center today?” She had just heard from Katherine, a member of our church who worked at the vaccine center. “They have extras,” Ginger told me.

I quickly texted back: “Wow! Yes!”

She replied, “You have 30 minutes to get there — go!”

I dropped everything and raced to the vaccine center, terrified that I would be late. I made a couple of calls along the way and got turned around trying to find the entrance. Had it been 30 minutes?

I was sent to a holding area with the other walk-ins and waited tensely for the next move. I heard one of the workers say there might not be enough shots left, and my anxiety level shot up. What if they ran out?

About 20 minutes later they started registering walk-ins and put us in a line for the vaccine. Only one person left — and then it was my turn. I started to believe this was really going to happen. A quick pinch later and it was done!

I needed to wait 15 minutes before I could leave. As I was looking for a seat, Katherine came over. I moved to hug her but caught myself, settling for thanking her profusely. Tears welled but didn’t spill.

Katherine and I talked about the overwhelming relief of having gotten the shot, and she said that some other folks from church were able to get it too. Not for the first time, I think to myself how wonderful Second Church is!

I’m grateful to be part of such a loving and faithful community, but sometimes I wonder if I should be there. Second Church is predominantly white, with just a handful of African Americans and other people of color. Are these my people? Is this where I belong? I’ve thought about it even more in light of the events of the last year.

Then, out of the blue, I got a text that told me I am included, I am loved, I am cared about. I got a text reminding me that church is about community, and we can thrive and love and share in all sorts of settings. I remembered all that has happened in the past year, in the world and in the church, and realized that this is where I am supposed to be. This is where I need to be. This is what grace looks like.

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