By most accounts yesterday was a normal day at May Memorial Baptist Church. We gathered for Sunday School, a couple of the deacons arrived early to prepared the bread and cup for the Lord’s Supper. We greeted each other, welcomed a couple of first time guests, sang together, heard a great choral anthem, and remembered our church family members who died this past year. We read scripture, our youth returned from their weekend retreat, and most significantly we shared a profoundly simple meal at the Table. We made a couple of mistakes yesterday as we acted out the drama of worship. They were quickly covered over and corrected, but as normal, we weren’t perfect. But we were together, and God was with us.
Yesterday morning as another Baptist congregation was worshiping midway across our country their worship was interrupted with the blasts of gunfire. Many lives were lost, many more injured. They were simply trying to do what we did yesterday, but their work was tragically interrupted.
In response to this violence, and the countless acts of violence in our nation toward “soft targets” such as churches, May Memorial will make some changes to better protect those who gather to worship together in our sacred space. Details of those changes will be coming soon.
I cringe at people who always make a tragedy about themselves, but last night and this morning, especially as I watched the news, I couldn’t help but think that this could have been us. Small community, small church, young children and Sr. Adults, and most directly, pastor’s daughter.
One response is to do what we can to ensure our safety, to limit our exposure. And we will do that. But another response is to consider what is most important. Yesterday’s mistakes are nothing. The “one communion plate short” issue that the deacons felt so embarrassed over is of no consequence. Everyone was welcomed and served at Christ’s table as they should have been. What is important is that we were together, and that you were with us. It is important that we sang together, and prayed together, and listened together. The care we showed for each other is important, and listening to scripture together is important. And what was most important is that God was with us. Everything else…no consequence.
May God loosen the Church’s grip on all of those things that make no difference and may God strengthen us to hold fast to those things that matter. Amen.