People go to church for any number of reasons. A great number of people go to church, I think, to "check the box." They "get it out of the way." They may go there to be seen. I've seen versions of going to church on resumes, sometimes as if to say "yes, I fulfill social responsibilities and am a good person." They seem to be checking some "good person" box. Not always. But...
These are not the reasons I go to church.
I definitely go to church for community. I believe we are all community there. We share many things.
But I also go searching for answers, or trying to listen because maybe I'm being told something. And it's a bit interesting because everyone might be told something a bit different in their mind, even though it's the same service, and we are all there as community.
Last Saturday, I had a vivid, strange dream. In the dream I showed up to be assisting minister. But someone else was there as assisting minister. I was treated and viewed as some kind of alien, and told I would never be assisting minister or lector again. And then... I woke up. The dream was so vivid that I had to think, did that really happen? I went to church and was the assisting minister, but I was distracted. Why the dream? I've now figured it out. It's my mind's way of taking a completely different part of my life and placing it out of context into some other part of my life.
But finding answers... where are they? Last week, the second lesson contained the words "agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." Seriously?!! I mean, I know some people who went to church last Sunday and heard the same thing. But the thing is, maybe the God of love and peace is with them somehow, but they are not living in peace." I bet they aren't aware of this either, and I bet they didn't spend the time I did contemplating how I could live in peace right now.
Then the Gospel ends with "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of age." I got that. Check! I know Jesus is with me. Definitely - I know that. But right now I need some kind of roadmap or decision-making tree as nothing makes sense. Who to trust - what to do - what road to take - when - where - why? I think, right then, I wanted to be alone, not up front as assisting minister... just for a moment.
Near the beginning we said
"Guard us from all evil."
Then there were the hymns,
"Leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms."
I am leaning. Something is holding me up.
"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me...
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, pleading for you and for me? Why should we linger and heed not his mercies, mercies for you and for me?
Oh, for the wonderful love he has promised, promised for you and for me."
Jesus is right here, always, holding, even as I struggle to find a roadmap. He holds. Even if I ignore, he is still holding. That is remarkable. As I flounder, he is there. As I am hurt, he is there. As I cannot believe the hurt, he is there, calling, pleading, and loving.
And so it is appropriate to end the service with these words of song:
"This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long."
At the end of the floundering and the hurt, I think I'll find my way down a new road. And Jesus will still be there, holding me.