This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the state-wide gathering of congregations for my Nebraska ELCA church. It was good – the experience fostered hope and a sense of unity in our purpose!
My husband and I arrived home late yesterday, and today was filled with activity – the frantic attempt to put our home life back in order: clean the house top to bottom, attack the piles of laundry, re-stock the fridge. A day of busyness and action – but certainly nothing to feed that sense of call I was left with after the assembly; a call to do more, be more, witness more!
Sunday night is here and I sit on our deck, computer before me. It is a perfect summer night and I try to avoid distraction from the chorus of birds, the laughter from neighboring yards and the quiet rustle of the wind through the trees. I consider my time at this assembly – a time apart from the chaos of the real world, gathered with the leaders and faithful people from the larger church body. I hold pages of notes to decipher and numerous thoughts to ponder. There is much to write – I could draft a book! But it would be a bad book – one that simply takes messy thoughts and commits it to paper without the needed time to pray, meditate and simply listen.
So instead of getting sucked into a tangled web of thoughts all at once, I’ll keep this short tonight. I will share just one story.
At one point during the assembly we were tasked to join in conversation and then write and submit a response to this question: What does it mean to be God’s Church?” This was part of a larger task force effort to continually seek to understand our identity as the ELCA in Nebraska.
Fortunately, I know people in high places. One coordinator of the discussion just so happened to be my father-in-law. So, on the 3-hour drive home from the center of our great state, I sat and read hundreds of pages of people’s writing. Some were short – 2 or 3 words – and some were a paragraph or two. Some very well-written with deep theological context, and some were… not. Some were written in scrolling penmanship, and some were quickly scratched and nearly illegible.
But all showed commitment to church and God; all showed a sense of people together – and nearly all were filled with action words! Give, Rejoice, Forgive, Speak up, Serve, Feed, Care, Invite, Share and on and on!
It was an enlightening experience and I’m thankful for this small glimpse of how my friends in faith view our role in the world.
I asked my son the same question this afternoon…. “What does it mean to be Church?” He seemed a bit confused at first – but then said: “To love each other.” Ah, yes. All of these action words summed into one! To be God’s church on earth we first love ALL as God loves. In that – the most sincerest form of love – those action words follow!
We are God’s Church. I am God’s Church. I am loved. I am saved by divine grace with no effort of my own. I step forward with these truths and live them out loud!