Sunday is my favorite day and not just because I get to go to church.
Today was an especially good Sunday. Here’s why. I was a little overbooked as usual, but somehow I love that. It makes me feel alive and so connected to God to be breathing and living in so many different parts of his church. I forgot to get the Munchkins I like to bring the kids so I set the alarm extra early to go get them. I hit Starbucks on the way in for good measure to have one of their divine Signature Hot Chocolates. They are my new addiction and I have been more or less subsisting on a diet of them until tonight.
Munchkins and chocolate in hand I rolled in to church in plenty of time to peruse the church library and grab an illustrated kid’s Bible to use in my sermon for Children’s church…score!
Today’s reading is one of my favorites anyway, Matthew 25: 31-46, the one where Jesus says “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
I had fun ad libbing a sermon using the pictures and talking about how people would ask Jesus, “what do you mean Jesus? I didn’t see you needing clothes, I never ordered you a pizza”. When my little sermon was over and we sang the last of the songs, one of which is called Butterfly… the kids just go crazy for it, we went to the small chapel to wait to be called in. In the chapel there is a beautiful stained glass window with many symbols. The kids get to pick a symbol and one of the adults usually tells a story about it why we wait. Today the symbol chosen was fire, and one of the music leaders who is a biblical scholar told this story from the Old Testament about King Nebuchadnezzar trying to burn up a few of Daniel’s friends in a furnace and how they walk out unscathed. Pretty neat.
Next up was Sunday school and the story was about the Census and Jesus birth, but it took a long time to get the kids to follow directions, which also seemed to be overly complicated. Thank goodness for my helper. I had to dash out early to get vested for Chalice and reading the Prayers of the People for the 11:00 a.m. service. I almost jumped the gun and was a breath away from running right over the Nicene creed and going right into the prayers. Lucky for me, the Reverend Chip Graves started it fast and then the Reverend Lisa Graves caught my eye in the audience. Honestly I think I was still a little dazed from the wonderful sermon I’d just heard from the Reverend Barkley Thompson.
I admit my cares are weighing heavy on me. Specifically the fact that in a week I could potentially have no home in Roanoke. A simple request for my address from my alumnae sponsor in DC creates anxiety. But the sermon today helped me put all of that out of my mind and focus on God, on my mission and on as Barkley put it, what Jesus looks for in us. As in the Gospel story today when he decides who inherits the rewards of the Kingdom and who is cast into the “flames”, not belief, but mercy. He divides the sheep from the goats based on their actions to the least of us. Not by being saved, not by professing anything, but by showing mercy.
I really needed to hear that today. When my heart was so filled with pain and hurt from the shabby way the woman I almost moved in with has treated me. I was so angry and dismayed, felt stung and betrayed, and robbed. I felt that she duped me. That she basically won my trust, only to change the rules at the last minute and then keep my money illegally, leaving me in an untenable situation.
After I wrapped up my duties at the 11, I got to have some one on one time with the Reverend Lisa Graves. I think I could talk to her an hour every day and never run out of stuff to talk about. I am going to miss her so much. We talked about my discernment committee and she reminded me that I am now actually officially an Aspirant. Wow. That is amazing isn’t it? She encouraged me to register for the open house at Virginia Theological Seminary in February. So I think I will. My next 2 semesters will be almost all religion courses. I really want to do my honors thesis around Communion. I have several approaches I have suggested and now I am waiting for approval from the department heads to find out which way to proceed. I have to begin the reading in J-term. I hope to hit some of the libraries in DC while I am there. Like VTS’s. 🙂
Tonight I went to the Gathering service and during Communion I was praying about my whole situation, the no place to live and the hurt I was feeling about the loss of basically all my moving money to secure a new place. I felt God was directing me not to fear at all, like I was like a little bird held in his hand, and surrounded by those that care about me. Instantly I felt better. About the money and my feelings of anger, he just showed me the woman, and how she dealt with me and that she expected me to come after her for the money and to confirm for her some negative opinion she has of people. That this just justifies her theft.
I suppose he was reminding me of the verses from the Sermon on the Mount, “But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:38:45 RSV)
No one in my family would agree with me, I know that, but after praying on it, I really feel that I should not “let it go”, but write to her, telling her how I felt and that I forgive her and that if she needs the money enough to take it in this way, I gift it to her.
Tonight was also the season finale of TrueBlood. It was pretty satisfying and I have to confess I didn’t see it coming. No spoilers here, I hate to ruin it for people. A little bummed about a couple of potential plot twists but am so happy about the big finish. I am really looking forward to next season, which it appears will start in Summer. I love Summer. So much time to read fiction and watch movies. I am dying to read the second Twilight book now that I’ve seen the movie version. I think the book was better, but the movie was still fun. I wonder what I should do for Summer. I know I need to take Spanish I and II, maybe at Virginia Western or even online but other than that, I don’t have anything scheduled. Lisa asked me if I would spend it in Greensboro. Interesting question.
I am trying not to dwell on what’s going to be determined in the next couple of days. I’ll either have all my stuff in storage and have no home of my own after all or I’ll have experienced some kind of miracle.