One of the incredible gifts of my role here as pastor is getting to listen to people’s stories. Often, people with no real connection to this place – except that they happened to be driving by, or they once knew someone here, or they found themselves in need and someone pointed them this way – often they come to tell their story.
But time and time again, a sad refrain runs through the stories: the person says, “I never thought I’d be here. I’m always the one who was helping, was giving; I never thought I’d have to ask for help.” And they don’t meet my eyes when they say this. Sometimes they voice shame, or embarrassment.
And if this is what strangers say, I worry about what those of us who say we belong here (and to each other) share, or don’t. I worry about how willing we might be, or not, to voice our own needs.
A woman came by yesterday who has had a rough few years. Lots of things have fallen apart around her. She didn’t come to ask for any assistance – just to talk. And she kept apologizing, kept saying, “This isn’t how I wanted it to be. I’m not used to being the one in need. I’m sorry.”
We’re entering the season of resurrection. Much that surrounds us is in bloom, full color, and signs of life abound. But not every where. And not for everyone. For some, a long and lonely Lent continues. The resurrection they (we?) hope for might still be a long ways off. We’ll speak and sing about it in worship because worship is where we give voice to the world we seek to co-create with God: a world of justice, and peace, and wholeness. But we will also continue to hear one another’s pain.
And please know, while worship matters, and while the church wouldn’t go on as it does without meetings and small groups and other important programming, the real reason we exist is much simpler: church provides us a structure to come together and care for one another. To recognize the Christ in each other. And that means recognizing the gift and the glory in each other and also that there will be times when each of us is misunderstood, or forsaken, or in need.
There’s no shame in our being human, or in our needing help. Even if we’re not used to being the ones who have to ask for it. The new life we celebrate this season doesn’t come all on its own, but when we help to cultivate it in and for each other.
— Peace to you, Erika