Dr. Brene’ Brown has become one of my favorite authors and speakers over the last couple of years. She is a researcher, story-teller, social worker, sought-after speaker, and author of several books including her most recent “Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts”. I love her refreshing, self-effacing humor and her brave honesty.
When she was once asked about why she attended church, she answered that it was the one place where she could interact with people who she would otherwise never talk to because she didn’t like what they believed in or stood for in the world. “Once a week I break bread with them, I sing with them, and I offer them peace in their lives and I receive the peace from them, because there’s got to be somewhere, and something, that’s bigger than politics, bigger than ideology, bigger than hate.”
When I listened to her say that recently, it made me pause to think about just how revolutionary some of our routine worship practices really are. Most of our congregations are not composed of members who all think and act in one monolithic way in the world. When we step through the doors of our sanctuaries, we come representing a broad diversity of opinions, politics, theologies, and experience.
But then we join our voices to utter that prayer that Jesus taught us, spoken by generations of the faithful before us. We take time in the worship service to pass the peace to our neighbor, and to receive a similar blessing or greeting back from them. We hear together the ancient stories from our sacred texts that reveal something about the nature and hope of God. We share our treasures to support one common mission. And we receive the simple gifts of Holy Communion that bind us together around one common Table with the faithful across the world.
In that one place, even if only for a few precious moments, we transcend the things that otherwise divide us. We embody Christ’s prayer “that all may be one”. We are counter-cultural communities who have chosen to grab hold of something larger than ourselves and choose another way of being in a world that often stokes anger and fear and brokenness. Our faith becomes revolutionary.
This Sunday as you gather in your church for worship, I urge you to consider just how profound it is to gather in that place and pass the peace to another who might not share your politics. I invite you to look around you at the church members with whom you’re sharing communion or to whom you’re passing the offering plate and recognize how much you need them in this world. And as you pray your silent prayers, give thanks to God for the precious opportunity to build a sacred community that stands in stark contrast to so much else around us.
When we are at our best, being the Church is an absolutely beautiful thing. It’s downright revolutionary.
Thankful to be the Church with you,
Reverend Shari Prestemon