For many around our country and world, this week left us, heads hanging and shoulders sagging. Perhaps it felt like you dragged yourself to church. It was all we could muster. This hymn of calling hit us like a splash of cold water:
Come! Live in the light! Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord. We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God.
Come! Open your heart! Show your mercy to all those in fear. We are called to be hope for the hopeless so hatred and blindness will be no more.
Sing! Sing a new song! Sing of that great day when all will be one. God will reign, and we'll walk with each other as sisters and brothers, united in love.
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, to walk humbly with God.
There was an incredible moment in our service this Sunday. It was awkward for me at first. During communion, Davin led a song (along with Katie and Tim) that had no lyrics. It had rhythm, a repetitive melody, and vocalizations that were more like groans than sung words. Afterwards, there was silence and Bob broke that silence quoting Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." The song was a wordless prayer that embodied the helplessness, the pain, and the deep longing that each of us felt at some point this week.
The passage this week was the well known story of the Good Samaritan in which a smug lawyer, schooled in the right religious responses, asks "And who is my neighbor?" I used to think I wasn't that lawyer. Honestly, I used to think that lawyer was the more fundamentalist Christian.
But I have to be honest. More and more, I am seeing myself in the religious lawyer. I ask, "Who is my neighbor? Who do I have to love?" And I know the answer. I'm a savvy Christian. I know the right answers...the politically correct answers...the answers that get you the most likes on Facebook. I can quote Rohr and Augustine and Buechner. Jesus responds to the lawyer with a story and a command and he says, "go and do likewise." He is not so interested in the man's answer to the question. He is more interested in what the man does, which seems backwards to me, because Jesus is supposed to care about our beliefs and not our actions...But he seems more concerned with whether the man helps the next beaten down traveller that he comes across. Bob made the excellent point that the questions that we formulate are likely more important than the answers that we give. If you ask the question, "Is this man my neighbor?" when you come across the man who has been beaten and left for dead on the side of the road, you have probably missed the point entirely.
If all you could do was to drag yourself to church, or if you could not muster the strength to do that, take heart. We reprised our Hymn of Calling at the end of our service on Sunday. At the end of our service, we sang it louder, Sing! Sing a new song! Sing of that great day when all will be one. God will reign, we will walk with each other as sisters and brothers, united in love. The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that when our response to pain and suffering is compassion and love, rather than questions about who deserves our love, then we can be a part of making that great day of God's reign a reality, even in the pain of a broken world.
We continue to pray for the violence that plagues our world. We pray especially for those most affected by the the injustices that happened in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas this week. We also hear of young children being killed in our own city and we feel helpless to make a difference. We ask Lord that you would do miracles in our city, our nation and in this world to end the violence and hopelessness that comes in the midst of this chaos. May you give us the wisdom to know what we might do in our own community to wed action to our prayers.
- We continue to pray for Andrew, Amy, and Irene Fields as they are getting settled in their new ministry setting in Columbia. May you provide encouragement to them and may the gospel in Columbia flourish because of their ministry there.
- Our first Women's Gathering is meeting this Thursday. Check out the events page for more information.
- would Next week Sunday we will be having a picnic from 3-6 at Waveband Picnic Field. Everyone should join! Pack some snacks and meet us there.