It’s hard to put my finger on “the one thing.” For me, it is more a flood of feelings, a series of small moments. They accumulate like layers of fertile soil. A hike up a rocky path in Nicaragua to a young friend’s home with dirt floors. A human sling carrying a loved one down from the Continental divide in Colorado. A staff retreat at Tall Oaks sitting around the fire and shooting the breeze late at night. An ominous organ prelude on Good Friday. A tiny child lighting the candle on Christmas Eve. The funeral of a beloved mentor. The wedding of a daughter. I cannot imagine passing through this life without the gift of church.
This church at 61st and Ward Parkway is the one that has spoken to me with the clearest voice. Welcome All. Forgive. Seek justice. Love the lost and the least. Believe in yourself. Trust God. Don’t give up. Grace spoken here. Strength for the journey. Walk alongside. Life with greater meaning. Jesus loves you. Seek wisdom. Learn more. Kneel in prayer. How could I begin to live in this chaotic world without those messages?
This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, which is the birthday of the church. Meaning the whole church on the earth. It’s something like our 2000th birthday! That’s some good longevity. But what we really celebrate is not what happened long ago. We celebrate that God’s Spirit continues to blow through us. For that I am profoundly grateful. Thank you to each of you who have in one way or in a zillion ways, given yourself over as a vehicle of the Spirit’s power in our world today. Because of you, the church lives. Because of your service, your kindness, and your contributions, the church is so much more than another “do-gooder” organization in our world. The church is the body of Christ. The spirit that came to earth in Jesus now lives in us.
It’s a sacred responsibility. A high calling. But it isn’t all up to us. The Spirit of God has used fragile people for 2000 years and it will keep on blowing through us. I will miss you while I am away this summer on sabbatical. And I am eager to see how the Spirit will weave us into new expressions of Christ’s love for the future.
I can’t imagine living in a world without you.
Grace and Peace,