“Choose this day whom you will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
This past Sunday was difficult. With many of us in a maelstrom of emotions after the election, we came to our usual place of peace and solace. Only this Sunday was heavy with goodbyes for our rector of the past five years, Deborah Meister. In a roll call of feelings, there is no doubt that hands would raise for some combination of grief, confusion, acceptance, anger, doubt, numbness, gratitude, complacency, hope, sadness, you name it. Some will wait to decide how they feel,and how the church and the nation might move forward.
I have always loved that verse from Joshua. I would like to think that it speaks the truth “for me and my house.” But maybe not so much right now. I invite you to think about this with me.
I believe I have three “houses,” – my personal self and family, the church, and the societal environment around me – places where my identity is rooted and where I must function. (You may have more or less, and yours may be different.) Within each, there are choices to be made.
Looking within, I have chosen to serve the small gods of irritation, eroding futility, and sadness-wallowing. I doubt that I’m the only one. It’s easy to get so very comfortable in the mud pit, to ignore the hands who are reaching out to us, to close our eyes to a God who makes all things new.
From the Book of Common Prayer, “For Quiet Confidence”
“O God of Peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
This sounds like a better choice: Being still. Opening to grace. Being grateful.
Here at St. Alban’s, have we been seduced by whispers of “wait and see”? Yes, we are grieving losses and are exhausted from the many changes in our church house. Perhaps some of us don’t want to wholly commit to St. Alban’s, still nursing a hurt. But if we wait and see, whatever we wait for will remain unseen. A better choice, as our kids sing in Children’s Church:
“I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together!”
I’m going to make sure that my pledge was received and is a stretch of faith. Is yours? Together, we must choose to create a generative future for this place we love. It’s up to us.
This nation cries out to be served lovingly, and yet I get white knuckles from tightly holding on to self-righteous indignation. It’s been easier to be judgmental than generous. But we can choose to listen to other points of view. We can respect tried and true processes. We can also choose to be bold in serving justice and compassion for the least, the lost, and the marginalized in very concrete ways. As we say each Sunday after the Eucharist:
"Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen."
In all the houses of our lives, we can gladly open the doors to new and better choices, as challenging as it may seem. Let’s serve the Lord by witnessing to the one true hope, with confidence that nothing separates us from the love of God.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are … ”
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets