Thursday, July 7, 2011

A gift in this year: Rez.

I cannot begin to say how much the Church of the Resurrection has meant to me this year.

But I will attempt to do so.

 A few months ago at a HNGR dinner where sexual abuse was discussed, a guest asked, calmly and innocently, "Wow, so how do you cope with hearing stories like that?". I think I let someone else answer; my quick response was silence, and if spoken would have been along the lines of, "Um, you don't cope, you learn to function.".
But there are things that you do- that I did- that kept me... more than functioning. Later, chewing it over with a safe person, I found I could name a few of them. And one of them was attending Rez.

Rez was such a gift from God to me this year.

I am grateful that it kept me engaged with the Creator in a way I'm not sure I could have gotten to on my own.

I am... oh man, this is just a hard one to write. There are just too many.

I am grateful that I went to a church that believes in lament.

 I remember so vividly sitting in the Holy Week Wednesday night service last year. We sang Psalms to the tune of Plainsong, softly and somberly, for over an hour. "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck... I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched... the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His captive people."

There is room in this church and its theology, for what happened to my girls. 
Suffering, deep suffering that does not always get better,
is not mutually exclusive with what Rez teaches.
Thanks be to God.

This year at Rez,
I could praise God and seek God and believe in a good God,
within the context of a world where little girls get raped.
They make room for that. They do not preach the prosperity Gospel. There is room in their praise services for "I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched." There is room in their worship for "Streams of tears flow from my eyes, because my people are destroyed."

Because I felt freedom and validation to lament, because I was seeing examples of people who were seeking God with that lament,
I could, over time, find my way to the ultimate purpose of lament:
"I called on Your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit.
You heard my plea."
But I had to do that lament, first. I am still doing that lament, so much.
I honestly, want to and think I should always be, lamenting, in some part.
Acknowledging before God that things are not how they were supposed to be,
and that that sucks, can and should be an important part of the Christian faith.
(Oh man... this is turning into a whole other post...)
-this world is broken. And we need to lament that.
And Rez does.
And I am so grateful for that.

I am so, so grateful I was immersed in a liturgical service and community. I wrote this on liturgy exactly one full year ago, and though prayer feels easier for me now, this still stands.

"...Prayer was and is, in an incredible gift of grace, the liturgy. It is going to church and saying and singing the same words every week, and in recent months being blessedly able to affirm them more and more. It is the gratitude that rises up in me that, in my inability to tell God these truths about Himself out of any spontaneity or warmth or even sense of friendship, I can sing them and raise my hands for an hour on Sunday mornings and get to tell Him them in that way. That I can find myself more and more knowing that I do believe these things, and that this liturgy, this church, is providing a way for me to affirm them before my own emotions or abilities are going to let me do so on my own. Oh, how grateful I am to get to praise God through words others have written and songs others are singing when my own heart is so confused and cold."

I love the liturgy.

I love what I've learned about church history. I love being on a calendar with Christians throughout the world. I love praying the prayers Christians have used to worship our same Lord for centuries and centuries.

I'm so grateful for how crazy prayerful this church is.
 I am grateful for the prayer ministers who line the sides of the auditorium every service, every Sunday, and who I make my way over to so often. I've never felt comfortable doing that at any other church but I do at Rez.
I'm grateful for the prayer services held twice a day six days a week at the ministry center. I'm grateful just for the fact that they happen and what that says about this church's dependence on prayer; and I'm grateful for all the times I went. The people are lovely and often it is fun and refreshing...
but also, often, that was a way I could meet with God when I still felt unable to pray alone.
I'm grateful for the kind woman I met in my membership class, who despite the fact that she barely knows me has sought me out on more than one occasion to inform me that she'd been praying for me that week.
I'm grateful for the prayer circle upstairs before every service.
I'm so grateful for the prayer-for-the-sermon ministry, which I got to be a part of... every single service every single week, there are people sitting upstairs praying for the pastor and the congregation as he gives his sermon. Isn't that cool? Does every church do that? I don't know, but I love that ours does. And I loved doing it once a month.
I'm grateful that I got a random phone call from one of the main pastors last week, telling me I'd been on his mind and naming some gifts he'd seen in me and asking me how I was using them for the Kingdom (seriously. That happened. On a Wednesday on my lunch break. It was pretty much wonderful.)

I'm grateful that homosexuality is not a taboo word or subject in our community.

I'm grateful for the warmth of the people. I'm grateful for the families I've gotten to know. I'm grateful for the sheer amount of beautiful babies and children everywhere.

I LOVE how they love that there are babies and children everywhere and they are never treated or thought of as an inconvenience or better "out of sight out of mind".

I'm grateful we take Eucharist every week. I'm grateful they make such-such-such a big deal out of the Eucharist. I'm grateful it in many ways feels like what the whole service points to.

I'm grateful for what a huge deal they make out of Easter. As well we should! And how much that has taught me about what the weight of sin is, what the hope of the Cross is, and what joy there is in the empty tomb.

I'm so grateful for the leadership of Rez. I'm grateful that they take care of themselves and each other. At the membership class, Karen said "Without a healthy staff we cannot have a healthy church". I believe that, and I have seen it in other situations. I don't know tons of details of how that's done; but I know that it is a priority for our church to take care of the staff and to be healthy in how they lead. I'm so glad for them; and I'm so glad for us. I feel secure in coming to church knowing that the leadership is taking care of itself and we can pray for and support them. There is a stability inherent in that which brings blessings which are felt throughout our community. And their evident care among themselves for each other is a beautiful model of community for all of us.

I'm grateful for how many Wheaton students go there. I'm grateful I got to worship with some of my closest friends.

I'm grateful for the music. I love the music.

I'm grateful for how there are places for every person with any gift to serve and be needed and appreciated.

I'm grateful for how gravely they take divisiveness and how strongly they work against it.

I'm so grateful I became a member. I didn't know how different I would feel, having made that commitment to a church body. I took it seriously and I feel it. When I am in that community, when I even think about that community, I know it is mine, and that I am theirs. And I want to give to it like that.

And as sad as it is, I am grateful for what it says about how much God blessed me with this church this year-
that the hardest factor for me in deciding to attend grad school out of state,
was leaving it.

(As Mere put it once,
"Rez really complicates post-grad life.")

Oh my goodness, I just love this church.

Thanking God for giving me Rez this year.


No comments:

Human Needs Global Resources Covenant, 2009

As fellow travelers on this journey, we commit to this covenant before God. Lord, in Your mercy, hear these our prayers:

When confronted with scarcity, need, and inadequacy, may we be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Abundance overflows from Your table, sustaining all who come in faith. Father, help us.

When monotony blurs our vision and dulls our senses, may we encounter others as Christ did, through intentional presence in daily life, submitting as clay to be formed into vessels filled with the Spirit. Christ, guide us.

When wounded by the fractured condition of Your people, may we be united by Your Lordship in faith, hope, and love; seeing, as through the facets of a diamond, the beautiful spectrum of Your light reflected onto Your holy Church joined in praise. Spirit, empower us.

When all Creation groans, afflicted by injustice and driven to despair, may the promise of redemption root us in the hope of Your Kingdom: "Behold, I am making all things new!"

Holy Trinity, 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.