God’s Vision: Risk It
Service of Worship (Friday, June 28, 2013)
Nerves…raging state of nerves…
As a preacher as a minister as a believer as a woman as a Latina as a seminarian. My response was NERVES.
See, over a year ago when a bunch of us sat around that conference table in Cleveland and began the process of imagining God’s Vision for General Synod #29, I was clueless, as I often am. See, I have always prayed that God won’t let me see more than I need to. That my sight will be protected. So, as we sat/stood around that conference room, I only thought about the page. The papers in front of us. The books spread on the table. The giant Post-It notes on the walls. The notebooks we carried back and forth to our rooms at night.
I envisioned the task at hand, the pace of the services the flow of the words the work to be done. But the moment, THAT MOMENT when the vision becomes reality…THAT MOMENT when the stage has been set and the pages have been printed…THAT MOMENT. nerves!
See, I remember envisioning what God has called each congregation to be, each Pastor’s vision on their websites, THE WORDS as words.
But that moment. That first moment when I stood on a giant stage and realized that THIS was a temple, a sacred space, that the words created in our hearts by the CREATOR where finally ready to be birthed into others souls…THAT MOMENT.
I remembered that other moment, when God called and I responded. And I remembered the butterflies from that first time. And I was overwhelmed and WHELMED (and never underwhelmed) at the responsibility.
We were guided to put those words on those pages for this moment:
- Elivette Mendez Angulo, from Manantial de Gracia in In New Britain, CT. At our church we welcome the professionals and the students, the prostitute and the drug addict, those in recovery and those still undecided:“nosotros estamos abriendo nuevos surcos donde no habian caminos”
- Bishop Yvette Flunder of City of Refuge UCC, In San Francisco, CA. In our congregation we “intentionally radically, inclusive[ly] welcome all persons regardless of race, color, ancestry, age, gender, affectional orientation, as well as those who are specially abled.”
- Kahu Mike Warren from Kalapana Maunakea First Hawaiian Congregational Church in Pahoa, HI, where we ask that you let us show you what a loving and gracious God we have; we believe in helping others, loving our neighbors and worshiping as Ohana.
- Pastor Leroy Bobtail Bear of Green Grass Church of South Dakota, where we “seek to bridge the gaps used to devastate people’s lives, culture, spirituality and souls…we seek to be a beacon of hope and an example of God’s love through actions and not just words…a place where it is easy to sense God’s spirit and find healing for your soul; a gathering place for all people who seek such a place.”
- Rev. John Edgerton from Old South Church In Boston, MA. In our congregation we “recognize the uniqueness of every individual as God’s beloved child. We seek to respond faithfully to God’s call for justice for all creation.”
And WE were called by the great I AM to welcome you into THIS holy space, at THIS perfect time…with “intentionality and purpose”, with a NEW “energy and responsibility” of fellowship and community each with the other. “We embody many languages and cultural traditions.” Would they understand? Could they see it from where they sit overwhelmed by the days notions, personal struggles and strife?
After the service an older man, an Elder rushed to catch up with me in the lobby of that sacred space (Long Beach Convention Center). There were no cookies, there were no cameras. My digital means of communication had been silenced. And this man waited for me and called me by name… he said, “Elivette Mendez Angulo from Manantial de Gracia in New Britain, CT, I felt welcome!” He explained that even the style, the colors, the design of my shirt were reminiscent of the cloths and colors and styles worn in his home country (Hungary) that he had never before felt as welcome as he had that day, by hearing his country and language and seeing my shirt represented in that sacred space, he knew that he also was represented.
WOW. Only God can do that. Allow two such different individuals to be just as welcome. Me in my Puerto Rican folklorica skirt and traditional Mexican top, with my Afro-Rican kinky twists and bembas pinta’ de rojo and an elderly Hungarian man in a suit and tie…EQUALLY LOVED AND WELCOME into El Reino de Dios.