Last week I led a workshop at Power in the Spirit, the wonderful worship and education event our synod holds every year at Roanoke College. My session was called “Strong at the Broken Places” and dealt with ministry to those who have experienced sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence. I pray that the workshop was helpful to the people who attended. I suspect, though, that the person who benefitted most was me. I told my own story of sexual assault and healing so the participants could hear a first-person account that might be similar to what someone in their congregation has been through. The group listened attentively to what I had to say. Their reactions were respectful and honest. In that way, they honored my experience and me as a person. I left there feeling blessed to have been heard in a setting that felt safe and affirming.
We have a unique opportunity as church to create safe places for people to tell their stories of sorrow, loss, trauma and joy. This how we relate as Christians: telling one another about what we have been through, how God has acted in our lives or how we need God to act. At times, if a person is in danger of imminent harm, we need to act to get that person help. Much more frequently, we simply need to listen, to honor that other person’s experience by letting the person know he or she has been heard. I have to admit I sometimes let my own agenda or busyness get in the way of hearing some of the stories waiting to be told, but when I stop, close my mouth and open my ears, I find myself on holy ground as I am the recipient of another’s truth. It can happen anywhere - in the pew, in the fellowship hall or the parking lot, in the grocery store or on the telephone. You have the power to give a great gift when you stop to hear another person’s story. I know you and I will have the opportunity to do just that in the very near future.
Oak Grove Pavilion presents the band Windfall this coming Saturday evening at 7:00pm. Come listen to beautiful music under the stars, enjoy delicious goodies from the canteen and take a chance on winning a cake in the cake walk. It doesn’t get much better than that!
This Sunday, Zion will have a congregational meeting following worship to discuss and vote on a proposal to re-do some duct work in the building.
Mark your calendar: on Sunday, July 26, we will have a joint worship service at St. Mark at 10:30 am.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart. - Psalm 32:11
Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God. - Karl Barth
Yours in Christ,