There have been many times in my life I have not wanted to go to church. All of Jr. High is a pretty good example… but more realistically, in my life when things are dark and dreary all I want to do on Sunday morning is crawl back in bed and pull the covers over my head.
But I can’t.
I wish I could tell you it’s because I was healthy enough to recognize that it was better to get up and get going and be around people during the dark times of our lives. But that’s not why. It’s because it’s my job. It’s my job to be in church every Sunday morning and lead worship and proclaim the good news even when I feel like everything around me is going to pot.
Yesterday was one of those days. This has happened before in more personal tragedies, but the school shootings of Newtown hit me hard. It didn’t help that I had a child around the same age as the children. It didn’t help that my husband was gone all weekend and this flaming extrovert had no one to talk to. But I walked into church on Sunday morning and there was a crowd of people waiting.
Now until this moment I had felt melancholy but I was able to keep it at bay, but then I started talking to people about it and the flood gates opened. I barely made it through announcements and then in my infinite stupidity read the third verse of Away in a Manger as a prayer. I lost control and cried. And of course, everyone else cried too.
Thank God the choir was singing the cantata for the service so my talking was to a minimum. But about halfway through one of our youth sang a solo “come little children, come one and all”
Come little children-I lost control and I wept. I left the church ran to my office and openly sobbed. Several other rushed by my door on the way to the restroom. When I came up at the end to give the benediction all eyes were red, tear stained faces met my return. The narrator lost it when she proclaimed that the darkness could not overcome the light. It was one of the most holy services of my life. Even when I didn’t want to get out of bed. EVERY TIME it happens, God calls me and begins or continues the healing process in my church community.
I am so thankful for them. I am so thankful to God for calling me here for such a time as this. And for the angelic voices who helped us all release some of the pent up sorrow deep in our souls. The Holy Spirit was here in this place, God is present in my church community. You can’t get that on tv, or through your quiet meditation (although valuable for other things) this kind of mutual support and love comes in a room of people loving and lifting you up as you worship God together.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven, to Live with Thee there