As you know, this time of year, I get reflective and mushy – so I have some thoughts on church, God, grace and gratitude.
On Sunday, we had 2 extra events – a pancake and eggs breakfast in the morning and caroling at the VA hospital in the evening. I had virtually no part in either. In fact, I was unable to go to the caroling at all (and a special thanks to you for accepting that with grace and love). These events were well-planned and went off without a hitch. The men (Dan Boyer, Jeff Buvoltz, and Danny Dubble) served us all from beginning to end and it was wonderful. Later, the women (Joy Graeff, Muriah Pennycoff, and Althea Cirillo) took us into the VA and served those folks in presence and sweet, sweet song.
I had far more trouble with this than you’d imagine, as one who speaks every week on ‘you don’t have to’ theology. I don’t have to, but there is a common traditional model where everything that happens in a church is planned/led/at the very least attended by the pastor, and even though I don’t come from any common traditional models of church (in fact, I ran away from those models), I easily fall into the mindset where I ‘have to.’
Don’t misunderstand, there is almost nowhere I’d rather be than with you, being the hands and feet of Jesus, but like all of us, some days…
My body, soul, and spirit said absolutely not, but the part of me that is driven by obligation and the weight of should (and the draw of my brothers and sisters) made the evening increasingly difficult.
Grace is like that, I think. We have been so conditioned to believe we must fit into certain expectations/common traditional models – what we can earn/produce, how full our resumes are. We sometimes are governed by who we think we should be. And Jesus says, “no, right now, here, as you are.” No should’s, no expectations.
Of course, we have responsibilities – we won’t always want to, but we do anyway. Because we have decided there is value in a thing or practice. We might be tired, but come to church or work out or go to work or brush our teeth anyway, right? We have events (on weekdays, Saturday mornings, Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, etc) and sometimes they’re not always the most well-attended, and that can be pretty disappointing. But we couldn’t have it any other way. I imagine those of us that walk away from Jesus are terribly disappointing to Him, too. But the cost of turning it into a ‘have to’ instead of a ‘get to’ is waaaaay too high.
We are a home. We are just like your dinner table – a place where you meet/are encouraged/refreshed/can question/honestly express yourself/love and be loved freely, and the base from where you go out to change the world.
When days like Sunday go off without my direct involvement, it changes my heart and reinforces one of our first values of the Bridge – it is not yours or mine, it is OUR community. I’m so thankful to be a part of something as beautiful as this, and belong to someOne as beautiful as Jesus.
Love. Peace.

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