The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. John 1:14 (The Message)
I am passionate about God’s mission and living that mission in the world. Passion, however, does not always equal perfection (in fact, it rarely does). I often feel like I let myself and God down, especially when I miss opportunities for conversation or connection with others.
What a gift it was when I realized that God’s mission – while needing my commitment – didn’t rely solely on my response. Put another way, I realized that God is at work in my neighborhood, the very place to which I am called, ahead of me and behind me, around me and before me. I understood that God’s generous nature is being sung through the world and that, while I am invited to join in the song, I am not the author of the tune.
Mary walked in to our congregation’s first community center experiment in October. We had decided to risk something new and open our doors to the community one night a month for food, fellowship, games and education. We invited the entire neighborhood and held our breath. We had no idea if anyone would show up. We just knew that we were being called to be open. When Mary walked in, no one was more surprised than me. You see, I had forgotten to trust in the generous nature of God. I had forgotten that God was already at work in Mary’s life and that by inviting her in, we were joining our song with hers.
God’s song calls to me in new ways each day. When I begin to think that I am out of tune, I simply stop and listen and find my way home again. Sometimes that stopping looks like a missional practice where I sit and dwell in God’s Word. Sometimes it looks like a spiritual discipline where I quietly breathe and center myself in prayer. Sometimes it looks like a visit to the closest shopping center where I sit and pray for people passing by.
Mary has already become a blessing to our congregation. We have opened our doors and our hearts to her. When she has surgery in December, she will be well prayed for and taken care of by her new friends. She has become a reminder to me that God’s generosity knows no limit. She reflects that generosity in the ways she sings the song of our community – in tune simply because she has walked through the door.
I know that not everyone with whom I am called to sing will walk through the door of my church. In fact, I am clear that if I were to sit and wait, in the walls of my congregation, for the neighborhood to enter and be received, I would be missing the point all together. God moved into the neighborhood. And I am called to move as well. The gift comes in knowing that even though I move slowly, even though I forget to move altogether, God is moving and singing and working. It’s why we are in this together. You and me. And Mary. And all the rest of the choir. It is why we sing. It is God’s song in the world. And it is a song of beauty and joy.