Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
“Bear one another’s burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
His wife has recently died. He was alone now, for the first time since college. We spent the afternoon together, sharing grief and recalling more carefree days. There were so many bills to pay and life adjustments to make. The friends that they used to see as a couple did not totally know what to do with him now. There was no one to offer an opinion on the remodel, and the thought of going out to dinner alone was oppressive.
A man of faith, he found comfort in the promises of God. A man of faith, I asked him about church; he had always been very active in his church (not TLC). “Going to church alone is hard, and honestly, I am so tired of hearing about love.” So tired of hearing about love. That single line cut me to my heart.
It reminded me that every life is complicated, and I have very little understanding of what it means to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Every Sunday people come to TLC and we have no idea the burdens that they are carrying. We cannot comprehend the courage it took for them to get in the car that morning to come to church. They come, the recently widowed, the newly divorced, a gay or lesbian child of God unsure of how they will be received by church folks.
One of our core values at TLC, repeated often, is, “Mine is the church where everybody’s welcome.” That is a wonderful statement, but really living it is difficult. If we are to live it, then we must leave all judging to God; we must not exclude any child from the fellowship of saints and sinners at TLC. There is no room for self-righteous attitudes in a church that has been aptly described as the (TLC) Total Loser Club.
But there is more. I need a double dose of vaccination to protect me from being too religious, but I also need a PhD in sensitivity. I pray that God would touch the deepest parts of my heart, allowing me to be more sensitive to the joyful and painful journey that is unique to each individual, and yet shared by all frail and insecure flesh.
As we enter church this Sunday, or as we walk the aisles at Payless, may God be with us. May the Spirit of the one who washed feet, touched lepers, and ate with outcasts, penetrate our hardened exteriors and sharpen our vision, that we might see in every neighbor someone in need of our love.
“I am so tired of hearing about love.” Those words, forged in pain, remind us of our calling to come alongside of all who are weeping. We need to talk less about love and spend more time loving. That loving will require a Spirit-led sensitivity. May God’s love inspire that sensitivity as we journey on together.
I will see you in church or I will see you online.