I confess. Church wasn't doing it for me yesterday. The music wasn't doing it. The sermon wasn't doing it. The weather wasn't doing it. I was irritable and edgy and unable to focus. I really didn't want to be in church.
Even to those of us who more or less like church. Some days, the church isn't a building. Some days, the church is a piece of paper and a thought.
So, I let my mind began to wander down paths of why church is important, thoughts about Christianity, why Saints matter (read www.lentmadness.org), and I started to write all over my bulletin.
It looks like this:
And this is what came out:
Christianity is a collective experience. There is no one person that tells the story of God. The story of God is told by tax collectors, prostitutes, the poor, kings, queens, doctors, soldiers, those that are ill and disabled. Teachers tell the story and children tell the story. All sorts of people tell the story of God. We all have a part in telling the story of God in our lives and the life of the world. The Saints that have gone before us tell this story and lived out their faith through words and deeds. They are so touched by grace that every step of their lives is a story about God.
Each step, is a word in their story about God. Each step you take is a word in your own story about God.
We study the Saints to connect on a deep level with those that have gone before us. They teach us about how God was a part of their lived experience of the gospel. This lived experience brings the gospel to life in all times and places. This gospel is live and real today. There are saints all around us living the story of God in real time.
When we study the saints that have gone before us, it connects us with the community of the company of heaven that sings of God's glory throughout all ages. I believe in some sort of heaven. I think there is more than this life. I deeply believe there is more to our story with God. My voice aches to sing with the angels and arch-angels and all the company of heaven. There is a hope for something more.
Enter the resurrection.
Studying the saints shows us the hope of the resurrection, the grace of God, the power of hope, and the mercy of love throughout the individual and collective trauma, tragedy, degradation, fear, and pain. The disciples firmly believed that Jesus rose again on the third day. They believed in the risen Christ. There was a man that was raised from the lowest grave and from the most degrading death. Those that went before us tell us of the power of the resurrected Christ.
The gospel tells us how God's grace flowers in the lowliest of situations. Maybe Jesus wasn't born in a physical manger, but perhaps this is a reference to grace in the lowliest of places. Perhaps there wasn't a star, but rather it refers to the light of Jesus in the darkest hours, or the darkest of times. Perhaps the miracles bore from a point of grace. Perhaps with love and grace, there is more. That all is possible.
What separates our belief in God as Christians, is the resurrection of Christ. This belief is the promise that all things are made right in God. This is a belief in grace, and hope, and love, and the power to transform. The degradation, the pain, the suffering, the ills, the abuse, the anger...these things are all made right in God. God made this right through Jesus. God made is right through the lives of the saints. God will make it right for you too. You are part of this story of hope and grace. Our study of the saints, and those that have gone before us as Christian witnesses, shows us how God made things right for people through the hope of the resurrection. This is a story that has been told for ages. This is your story.
Through God, all things are possible. Through our collective experience of the Grace of God in our lives, we become a part of the community of saints that speaks a voice that witnesses to God's work in the world. Your voice belongs in this story.
Come, be a part of the story. What would your voice say?