I don’t know why the few times I have blogged about church, it always involves tears, but here I am on another Sunday, getting set to tell you about getting weepy in the pews.
To recap, this last week was hard. HARD. And I don’t think that is just for people on my side of the aisle – I think a lot of us are hurting from what we see in the news, what we see others posting online, and what we see as great division among our families, friends, neighbors, and nation.
I have felt the weight of the week in many ways, many times. And while it would have been super easy to say I was too busy to go this morning – had too much to do and could have just stayed home to let the baby nap longer – I am beyond glad that there was a special occasion, the first sermon from a prospective new pastor, to pull me to service today.
It started with the very first hymn. I’ll be honest and say that I have no idea if these are picked in advance or who has a say in the songs at all, but whoever and whatever conspired to bring today’s message was beyond synchronicity. It was perfect.
The song, “Come! Live in the Light! (We are Called),” was not a familiar one to me. But I sang along and by the second verse, as I read the words and followed the tune, I suddenly felt my eyes stinging because the words were SO relevant to today’s world. To the United States today. To me and my heart. I snapped a quick pic afterwards so I could quote it here for you:
Come! Open your heart! Show your mercy to all those in fear! We are called to be hope for the hopeless so hatred and violence will be no more. We are called to act with justice; we are called to love tenderly; we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.
So while we have enjoyed these last six months attending this new church, today sealed the deal. At their hearts I see mission – just as the pastor pointed out in his sermon – and not just a mission to change others to make them similar to themselves, but to serve. Simply, wholly, and with love. Can anyone disagree that we need more of that in our world?
On that note, I didn’t actually do a very good job of singing the rest of the song because I was trying not to burst out into ugly tears. I couldn’t turn to look at my husband or at any of my friends in the (blessed for its acceptance) Balcony Zone because it was a moment of vulnerability and personal resolve. This is the message I embrace. And I feel beyond blessed to know so many people in my community (at this church and beyond) who feel the same.
Fast forward to the Children’s Moment and the reading of Micah 6:1-8, which the teacher asked the kids to read in parts and for which Harrison volunteered and read the first part of the very last verse: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. Again, the little lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes, because this – this is what it means to be not just a Christian, but a person. Those first bits are basic parts of being a decent human, and again, it made clear that this is the message. This is the mission, of this church and of me.
I thought for sure this passage had been hand-selected to reflect our current political and cultural situations. And I was impressed. Then, the pastor explained that the Bible verses for the Presbyterian church are set out far in advance (three years, maybe? You have to remember – Balcony people don’t catch every word because, well, children), and this just happened to be the verse today (and in his case was apparently a quite personal connection, too, which was also cool). At that point, what I felt was connection. Connection to others and to spirit and to the truth that we know the way forward from here. To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly (with your God).
Honestly, if you and I have different views, so be it. I am not here to change your politics or your beliefs. Shouting at each other in all caps on social media isn’t going to do a darn thing. But treating each other justly, while loving mercy, and walking forward with Spirit? That is work I can do. That is work we must all do.
And then, lastly, there was this: Harrison’s Sunday School craft/activity. A heart-shaped puzzle with the words “God’s love is for everyone!” I couldn’t agree more.
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