Around here, Thursdays are the day where a good deal of the work of preparing the Sunday morning service begins. I am always amazed to see the sheer diversity of the people who come through our doors on any given Sunday. I am equally amazed to discover the potpourri of needs, hopes, joys, fears, longings, frustrations, and anxieties that accompany them. Of course it is impossible to craft a service with the specific intention of meeting every perceived or real individual need that might show up on a Sunday morning. Yet one of the mysteries of the church is that when we gather together somehow our individual stories can find their place within the broader story of God and the story of his church—that by simply being together to pray, to sing, to hear from Scripture, and to share our lives, our needs just might end up getting met (however oddly or unexpectedly) along the way.
I was reminded of this as I read this fantastic passage this morning. It comes from an essay by Regina writer and naturalist Trevor Herriot called “El Marahkah IV” in Northern Lights:
I am not sure what it is that keeps me returning to a prairie remnant and to church, but it feels the same. I stand within and bear witness to weeds, garbage, railway, and a few scattered wild things, all in one place, pay homage to the lives that are passing there, as my own is, as all lives are, face our trespasses with courage, ask for forgiveness, and dwell in the light as dim as it is amid the darkness…
So, here we are then, all in it together. Some looking for comfort amidst privilege and probity. Others hoping to shore up a flagging faith. Some seeking a private encounter with the Divine. Others seeking to merge with a body of believers. Some hoping to dissolve the pain of reality in the waters of heaven’s promise. Others hoping to chasten themselves by facing the truth of our brokenness. Some nursing their piety with novenas while they cling to a mildewed dogma. Others holding fast to the prospects for religious renewal offered in new theology.
Despite all that divides us, we share in a struggle to believe the good news in a world where bad news is abundant and always easier to believe…. Hammered by the believable lies… we gather to the clanging of bells and try to see the truth in the body we form, in the Divinity who is a parent, a child, and a spirit all at once, in the standing up of the dead, and in the regaining of the lost.