Wednesday, Sep. 27th 2017


A few years ago, I had the opportunity to see one of the most wondrous sights (at least for a Kansas girl)— a field of a million sunflowers. If you haven’t been to Ted Grinter’s sunflower farm, you should. My husband, mother and sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews enjoyed an ordinary afternoon doing so. We had a lot on our hearts and minds, but the flower field was so magnificent, for a moment we—-along with hundreds of others—-ooo-ed and ahhh-ed, felt at peace and played. We all left the fields feeling so refreshed.


As a pastor, I have the chance to hear stories that both broke my heart and gave me hope I hear stories that make me question God’s presence and that assure me the Holy Spirit is at work.  I have had the honor of several folks with alcoholism opening up and sharing about the constant challenges they face in life—the darkness, the loneliness, the exhaustion, the guilt, the temptation. I turned to the Alcoholics Anonymous Book in an attempt to better understand their experience and when I did, the Holy Spirit drew my attention to the words of AA’s founder Bill Wilson. He writes this about alcoholics and I believe about all who struggle with hurts, habits and hang-ups: “I suppose some would be shocked at our seeming worldliness and levity. But just underneath there is deadly earnestness. Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish.” I was taken aback. For those of us walking through seasons of great pain, this statement rings so true. The amount of faith it takes us to get through just each moment, is astounding. And yet, it is often those we know who are at the end of their rope who we believe have little to offer, who we judge, who we discard.


All of this brings me back to the experience of the sunflower field. Folks gathered from all over, with different life stories, different challenges, but for a moment, the glory of the sunflowers brought them together. People, in some small way found common ground. All was well. I believe this is how the church is supposed to be As we come together, in the glory of the Lord, we are free to come as we are. We find common ground. In God’s glory, our hearts are filled with grace and everyone’s “okayness” with the God of glory is apparent. I think this sentiment is echoed in this passage from 2 Corinthians 5:16-17: “16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” This is our calling as we seek to be the church.


This can mean a lot of things, but one thing that it has come to mean to me is that the church should never be a place where people feel they have to be perfect. Instead, it’s a place where we all come just as we are to experience God. I ran across this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” a week or so ago, “He or she who loves his or her dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” (27) For those of us (which is most of us) who often wish that church was something different or something more, I want to challenge you to focus your energy on recognizing the work of the God of Glory in the church just as it is I want you to focus on the faithfulness all people are seeking to live into, regardless of their challenges. I want you to celebrate evidence of God’s good work, even in an imperfect church and all of us, the imperfect people who it consists of. All are welcome in God’s church!

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The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you and give you peace.

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