I work almost every weekend, which wears heavily upon my mind and spirit. An over-busy life mutes, even attempts to kill, the soul. Work late Saturday night. Get up early Sunday to go to church — always aware that soon after it is once again time to return to work.
Do I come to worship out of robotic routine? Dreary discipline? Or because I seek God and deeply hope God seeks me?
I arrive on time, talk to no one, take my place somewhere in the middle and sit on a hard, albeit beautiful, solid wood bench. Inside, I feel dry. Stomach empty. Mind aimless. Emotions seem to have taken a sabbatical. Does my heart even have any blood left in it? I can’t help wondering why I’m really here in this sacred house when I feel as if worship is the last thing my worn-out will aspires to. It’s a state of lingering lachrymose.
I stare at the large cross on the wall at the front of the sanctuary and feel it staring back at me. I hear the murmur of people all around me talking to one to another. I have no idea what they are saying. Suddenly music fills the air. Through the lovely voice of a Michigan folk musician, Ruth Bloomquist, I hear God “Tenderly Calling.” Blood — mine and the Lamb’s — re-enters my heart, awakening my soul. Someone reads a soothing psalm, praising the God of all life. Bloomquist’s voice returns, singing “Bathe Me in the Water.” Living water washes over me and into me as only the Spirit is able. I’m filled to the point where I can’t stop that holy water from seeping out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
The sermon comes like light breaking apart darkness. God’s word renews my spirit, gives me strength and true hope. Love lives. I have found (really, I have been given) what I need: sharing with others of like mind and like spirit in spiritual sanctity and safety. Here it is safe to be myself, safe to be communal. It is safe to meditate alone and safe to worship together.
In the midst of this grace, I become more keenly aware of those around me. God is here. I am here. Others, in need like me, are here. And I’m so glad we all are here together, always together.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers