Okay, this one’s for Kit. (I am trying to learn how to embed videos like she does…) We haven’t had a U2 reference for a year or so, and if you know this one, it will take you back.
I really enjoyed our class on Sunday, and believe that in coming together in God’s name, and speaking from the heart of our relationships to each other, to the church, and to God, we are truly doing important work of the church. Never mind if it includes making coconut cake, analyzing sermons, going to Dollywood, eating sausage biscuits, or attending Good Friday service. We are Easter people, we’re Christians…for goodness sake, if WE can’t find God in these places, who can?
I don’t like when people use a ‘pulpit’ to expound, and this isn’t really about our time next Sunday, but here I go. I had an insight last Sunday I feel compelled to share. Over the past year, we have gotten deeply into the reasons why we do or don’t attend Sunday service. I’m going to throw a new stick into that fire, so help me. As Kit said, I do love Sunday service, and I think I would go if I were the only person in the room. Sure it comes in part from my Catholic upbringing, but I get a sense of peace and belonging that’s is otherwise hard to come by. But there’s more. It really does matter who’s there. By our very presence at a service, we support each other, we commiserate with each other, we hold out our hands to each other, we share an experience, and we look and listen for God. We are called to be a ‘cup of strength to suffering souls.’ How can we do that in our community if we’re not there? Someone else might need you, that day, and how would you know?
With or without you. This is not about guilt. And it is not a rebuttal of folks who faithfully explained why they don’t attend Eucharist and/or coffee hour. I get that and respect it fully. I want this to be another way of thinking about what you have to contribute to the St Andrews community. Not what do you get, but what can you give. Your presence. Your very God-given and Christ-laden presence. The show goes on, week to week. Steve, and everyone else involved in the Eucharist week after week will do their parts. But we all have a part to play, and sometimes that means just showing up, with a caring heart, an open mind, and eager ears. I worked with a priest in Georgia who told a story about another priest who lost his wife to cancer at an early age. For that priest, in his anger at God, and his sense of betrayal, it was the community who believed for him, his congregation who stood before the altar and repeated the words that, for a time, he couldn’t believe. He was the suffering soul, and everyone else held the cup of strength, while they could. And over time, the community, and the Spirit working through the community, brought him back. Because he understood that it mattered, and he kept showing up.
We (I think I can speak for Kit, here) are touched by the times people say that our Sunday school time is ‘church’, and is important time that they look forward to. I am one of those people. And like the liturgy, I will show up for ReFocus every Sunday I can, even if I’m the only person in the room. But I happen to believe that we can make the Eucharist (and coffee hour) into that kind of experience and more…by sharing our stories, by bringing our fears, by listening to others, and showing up.
Last week we heard the powerful story of Thomas, who didn’t believe the resurrection. He denied that Christ rose, even when everyone else around said differently. So what happened? He wasn’t kicked out of the group, he wasn’t struck down, excommunicated, or even made to feel bad…in fact, he showed up with the gang next week, and God used him to make one of those unexpected jabs we come to expect as Christians. Maybe it doesn’t necessarily matter what YOU believe. God can and will set things right. But we should do our part. Stick it out. And show up – and while you’re at it, come looking around for that person who needs you. You may see the eyes of Jesus.
I’ll post again to get you all ready for next Sunday’s excursion. We won’t go far, just around the churchyard, but do plan to be outside.
Thanks for listening – John