Occasionally, Sunday mornings at our congregation approach transcendence—as in “beyond here-and-now,” or “burrowing into our souls.” This past Sunday was one of those times.
The texts for Pentecost 26 (Cycle C) matched the parable of Lazarus—a rebuke of clueless wealthy folks—with Amos’s condemnation of those whose lifestyle rendered them blind to the plight of people who are poor. That familiar theme invites familiar sermons, prayers and hymnody. What happened at Faith Lutheran, though, traveled deeper into God’s will, God’s wisdom, God’s redemptive love. To condense this experience into one idea, this past Sunday we watched each other while we were also being watched. Faith made tangible in words and actions.
During the education hour, two groups of high school youth each recounted the highlights of their summer mission trip. We could see that these service ventures were about more than adolescents being helpful. These teenagers—whom we’ve seen grow from children into young adults—had gained wisdom and spiritual insight because of their experiences. They came back as different people. What a witness!
Worship included an infant Baptism, evocative prayers and lectionary-appropriate hymns and choir selections. At the time of the Baptism, the children in the pews were invited to come forward and watch up-close what was taking place. The communion rails filled with children of all ages. In a miracle of that moment, all of them dropped to their knees together, watching intently—and without a sound—as that baby was brought into the family of God. The people in the pews watched these watchers with our own appreciative, grateful thoughts: Because these youngsters are also members of this family, we will stand alongside these children—and their parents—as they grow in faith.
Our pastor found within the day’s texts—Amos 6:1a, 4-7 and Luke 16:19-31—another emphasis that’s been there all these years, but not always seen or proclaimed: We can practice justice and offer grace because we are part of God’s family. Refreshing, encouraging good news!
Sunday’s experiences brought home to me again the reality that all of us—elders included—are both watchers and watched. We learn from the example of those around us—in this case, little kids and teens. We are also among the watched ones, beloved and credible. We are part of what makes this congregation something wonderful.
Maybe even transcendent…?
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