Preparing for Worship – Jenna Sullivan.
Today is the first of several Sundays this summer that we gather as one church family to worship together. These pews will hold our families, hopes, fears and dreams as we lean in to the tie that binds. We will hopefully see faces more regularly that we don’t normally get to see. This is certainly a gift to be cherished. I am reminded of Wilshire’s mission statement and go-to anchor these days: to build a community of faith shaped by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
I wonder how our community will be shaped during this season of coming together. What will become more securely connected and what will be shaken loose? All of it will be orchestrated by the Holy Spirit herself who shapes us in ways we cannot even imagine. Whoever you are or however you found your way to a pew today, may you feel held in body and spirit.
The world is aching after another tragedy in our own state. We desperately need each other. The thing about the Holy Spirit, though, is that it is only truly experienced in communion with others — with God, creation and the body of Christ. Humanity is broken, messy and deeply vulnerable to evil. And yet, we gather. Our act of gathering serves as a marker of our faith — we dare to believe in Christ’s reconciling work among us. We bring our grief, rage and hopes to the body of Christ and we expect to be challenged, forgiven and transformed.
As you prepare for worship today, ask God to silence the chatter of your brain and take a deep breath. As you breathe in the breath of life that we all share, may you know that you are loved in this place. You are safe to lean in, scooch a little closer to the person or family beside you, and worship the God of community.
It is hard to believe that today I will preach my last sermon as a pastoral resident. Preaching after such devastating local events is not an easy task for a clergy person — but you, Wilshire, and your empowering investment in me have readied me. This is who you are. I thank God for each of you and the chance to minister briefly among you and become shaped as a pastor in the Spirit of Christ.
However, community is something you do not ever really depart from. We are forever siblings and co-laborers for the gospel. May this mysterious tie of love bind its way around your heart too so that you may find a place of belonging and transformation for all your days.