Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Beacon of Love

Joe and I belong to a special community of believers that attend St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. 
Joe and I first visited St. Michael’s six years ago and it was an interesting experience. Joe was raised Catholic and I was raised Southern Baptist. How we ever ended up being married is truly a wonder. But, God knew our hearts better than we did and chose to help us find one another.
While we were dating, we visited many different churches of many different  denominations. We both knew that we had to ground our marriage in a place where we would be surrounded by love and nurtured by prayer - a place where we could grow together in God’s love. Yet, we also were pretty firmly rooted in our own faith traditions - not so much theologically and more, perhaps, in the way we were taught to express ourselves. Joe is much more conservative and I, on the other hand, have no quarrel with offering a hearty Amen and tapping my foot and clapping my hands to a good Gospel tune.
Joe quietly refused to really get involved in a Baptist church and I, on the other hand, flatly and loudly refused to go to the Catholic church. So silly, really. We each had our reasons for standing firmly on the principles we thought we needed to defend. However, we both knew this situation was not healthy for us. So, we found ourselves at St. Michael’s. Again, God knew our hearts better than we did. I’m always amazed by that.
I’m telling you this little church is a beacon of Love. Not many realize it - not even many members of our own congregation. One of the things that completely astounds me is how freely and easily the people of our congregation love each other and love the Lord. It happens every day and in the most ordinary ways.
Of course,  there are the different ministries of the church - places where people expect to meet God and usually do. I’m talking about the other stuff - I like to call them whispers of love - things like a phone call, email or personal note that are reminders that someone is thinking of us, praying for us, loving us. And, most often, when we need it the most. I’m talking about the times one of our members goes out of their way, each Sunday for close to a year now, to give a ride to one of our other members that does not have a car. I’m talking about the times someone has brought donuts to Christian Education - just because; or, the times someone has weeded a garden to make something beautiful out of a bug and weed infested bit of chaos. I’m talking about the many ways the people of our church say “yes” to whatever is asked of them - even if it means they have to sacrifice or go beyond their familiar to do what is requested.
I’ve been the recipient of those whispers of love more often than I can count. I know all I have to do is shoot an email pleading for help or a “circle the prayer wagons” request and, immediately, I am being prayed for and the need is lifted to the God of Love. It is such a comfort to know that “help” is on its way. It’s like finally hearing the ambulance siren getting louder and louder as it rumbles its way through the neighborhood and to my front door. Usually, the request is soon followed by a phone call or two, a warm hug waiting for me the next time I am at church - or someone grabbing my hand and hanging on tightly during the Lord’s prayer. No words usually spoken and all acts of love.
St. Michael’s is a beautiful place and not only because of its physical structure. It’s a place of God, a place of worship and, for me, a place where I can love and be loved - freely and abundantly. I’m so thankful that Joe and I found this little church - a place where we would be surrounded by love and nurtured by prayer - a place where our hearts continue to grow together in God’s love and through His grace. Yes, God knows our hearts better than we do. He directed us to this beacon of love - It continues to amaze me.

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