04 May Thy Kingdom Come…Side by Side
As is our custom, the Sunday after Easter is Be the Kingdom Sunday at Calvary. The entire church gathers for worship at the normal time and place, but then disperses in groups to serve our community. We worship that day by being the church, being the Kingdom of God, being the Easter people we proclaimed to be the week before. Our Facebook page has pictures of how the day went, and I encourage you to check it out!
I hate to admit it, but I arrived at church for Be the Kingdom a little on the grumpy side. I think part of it was post-Easter fatigue and part of it was the result of the ongoing process of grieving—part of that year of “firsts” after you lose someone you love. My dad would have loved hearing about our Easter service, and I had missed being able to share that with him.
In my grumpiness, I was more concerned than usual about how the day would go: would people still show up and be excited to participate? Would the projects that had been organized run smoothly? Would the weather cooperate for the community park cleanup? Would I have the physical, emotional and spiritual energy to do everything I needed to do?
I needn’t have worried. Almost immediately I was enveloped by the joy of the congregation. The sanctuary was filled with people in jeans and royal blue t-shirts ready to get to work. Torre Fuerte, a partner church that worships in our building in the evenings, joined us for the first time, also decked out in royal blue t-shirts. People of all ages were smiling and laughing and talking. The energy was infectious.
Before long my bad mood had totally dissipated. The fellowship of my “peeps” had lifted my spirits. The sense of God’s presence had filled my heart with joy. I was renewed by the privilege of standing side-by-side with these people, learning together to be God’s kingdom in the world. The truth was that I didn’t have a lot to bring to our gathering that day. My “pastor tank” was running low, and if the outcome of the day had depended on me, we wouldn’t have had much to celebrate. But, that is precisely the beauty of community. It didn’t all depend on me. And it never does. As we worship, serve, eat and share together, we lift those who are burdened. We offer solace to those who are grieving. We give a helping hand to those who need it. We remind each other that we belong to God, first and foremost, and therefore, we can live with peace, hope, love and joy, regardless of the circumstances of our lives. What a gift! What grace! It transformed me that day, as it so often and unexpectedly does.
Being Easter people, being kingdom people, being the Church is meant to have this kind of impact in the world. Sometimes we don’t see it because it happens imperceptibly one person at a time (hence Jesus’ comparison of us to salt or yeast—small, invisible, but effective). It can be easy to lose sight of who and what we’re trying to be, but this summary came in the mail this week, and I thought it captured it pretty well. As the Church,
We stretch out our hands to one another as a sign of peace.
We stretch out our hands to our guests, to welcome them for worship.
We stretch out our hands to our community, in prayer and support.
We believe that we are all transformed through these selfless offerings.
Amen and amen. Let it be so.
Yours for the Kingdom,