Long ago when I was a campus chaplain at University of Montana, I attended a student meeting to listen to a person invited to speak about apartheid. It turned out to be a small, informal group, which surprised me and I remember thinking that it must be disappointing to the speaker that so few had come. The speaker, a freedom fighter from Zimbabwe, was very articulate about the history, issues and challenges facing those who struggled for freedom and equality in South Africa. He was compelling, not only because of his first hand experience in that dangerous struggle, but even more because of his presence. He was a very large, very black, passionate, powerful man. And he did something that night that changed my life. He called me “sister”.
When he found out that I was a campus chaplain, he looked directly at me and said, “Sister! Then you, too, are called to this holy work!” I have never felt so small and useless as I did in that moment. I remember thinking, “He mistakes me for somebody important and powerful, someone who could really make a difference.” He didn’t know that I was nobody.
Words are powerful. Ideas are powerful. Naming is the most powerful of all. That night the idea that I might be somehow capable of effecting change in a broken world, took root. I began to consider that perhaps my job as chaplain was the beginning of a call to something deeper. But most important, deep in my soul that word, “sister” took hold.
It was a mystery how this powerful man from the other side of the world could look at me, a person so profoundly different from him, find what connected us, and name it, “sister”! That night, a black man struggling against the evil, violent oppression of white people, looked past all that was outward and visible and saw instead the essence of my soul and with a sudden light of recognition in his eyes, called me “sister”.
I spent days and weeks, even months saying, “He must be wrong. He mustn’t have meant it. He must say that to everyone!”, but I knew it wasn’t true. And I knew I needed to step up and live more fully the life I was meant to live, to be more the person God created me to be. And I knew that I was somehow profoundly connected to a powerful black man, I would never see or speak to again, struggling for justice on the other side of the world.
Jesus is right when he says that it isn’t the outside of any of us that matters. It’s not what we eat. It’s not what we wear. It’s not how we talk or celebrate and it’s certainly not the color of our skin that is of consequence. It is the heart. It is the capacity and integrity of our hearts. It is our ability to look beyond all that is insignificant and see what is truly of value in each of us that matters. And because we can so seldom see ourselves clearly, it is incumbent upon each of us to name what is powerful and precious in one another. That’s what Jesus did. He called out the best in people. He named them and in doing so, healed them and set them on the best path forward. That is our call as his disciples. And we can’t do it if we are distracted by appearances, by the things that make us different. None of that matters to Christ. None of it should matter to us.
Dear Grace Church,
I have been away for two weeks getting ready for my ordination. And it happened! I hope some of you were able to be with me via Zoom. It was a beautiful evening and Karen+ gave a perfect sermon. Since my own Bishop couldn’t travel, Bishop Brian laid hands on me in her place. So wonderful!
This Sunday we are back to digital coffee hour! Join us 5-10 minutes after worship (about 11:30am)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 843 9927 2014
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Meeting ID: 843 9927 2014
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Evangelism Team The Evangelism teammeets this Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 2:30. For the Zoom link, contact Mia at RevMia20@gmail.com
Book Club The book club is resuming this week and still reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans, this Wednesday 7pm via Zoom. We are using the same Zoom link as last time (if you don’t have it, please email RevMia20@gmail.com) We have room for you if you’d like to join us.
Doing School at Grace
Grace will be offering internet service and tutors to 12 students beginning August 24. The hours will be 1 – 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Parents who are interested in sending their students need to register. (Please call the office for this information.) We will be using the parish hall so we have good distancing between students. Mask wearing will be mandatory, hand sanitizer in use, windows open and fans on for ventilation, and thorough cleaning at the end of every day. We will do everything to be as safe as possible. Our goal is to assist students with their online school work and to provide reading and math tutoring as needed. As things are uncertain regarding in person learning, we will be flexible and seek to provide the services we can to meet the needs we encounter. If you feel called to assist with this program or have questions, contact Karen+
Spiritual Gifts Workshop. Mark your calendar: Sept. 13th. This will be an all-day parish-wide event. We’ll make sure that everyone can participate (on-site/at-home). This is a chance to examine the ways God works through you for the good of the world with unique gifts and talents. After exploring your own, we’ll also discuss how to spot spiritual gifts in others. When we all come out of our charisms, amazing things happen by the grace of God.