Last week Pastor Don gave an excellent sermon at 9:30. It was so good, I wanted to hear it again. I had taken notes -which I often do. I then went to the service at 11:00 and added to my notes. I wanted to hear it again. It spoke to me in so many ways. At the 11 a.m. service he added 2 questions to be discussed. When were you unaccepted and when were you accepted? I did not have to think hard about this.
When I was in 7th grade, I was grieving for my Brother who had died in June. I was absent a lot and my best friend from birth found other friends. I did not fit into her group and I did not fit in anywhere. I felt alone and very unaccepted. It was something that would take me 3 years to overcome. A very lonely time. When I was 15, I went to a small church and when I walked in, an elderly woman took me to sit with her. She showed me the hymnal and the bulletin and led me through the service. She was so very kind to me and made me feel accepted. The whole church did. They embraced me and began my journey as a Christian.
I talked with a dear friend after the service and we discussed the stigma and loneliness of being the only one who is different in a room and how we learn from that. It helps us to reach out to the loners and the “different.” We know what it is like to be the one sitting alone. Years ago, there was a young girl at church whose parents were divorcing. She would often stand alone, apart from everyone. I would talk to her about what color her hair was that week and I looked forward to our chats. She grew up and moved away. I recently saw her, and we embraced. The bond was still there. She added to my life and I hope I added to hers.
Christ accepts us where we are and who we are. He is always with us; we are not alone. The bible expresses this in so many ways. Christ healed the lame, the outcasts and the sinful, and he will heal us. The 23rd Psalm speaks to us about God’s faithfulness.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”Psalm 23
Lord, thank you for your presence in our lives, for your constant love and forgiveness. Be with our church, be with those who are ill and those who are grieving. May they feel your strength lifting them up. Be with our country, Lord, may we learn to love and respect each other and find our way to you. Be with our Pastor, bless his ministry and his family, and be with our staff and leaders, may they be strengthened, and may they feel you in their lives. Bless our church, may we be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our actions and in our lives. Amen