This year has been a tough one in South Carolina, especially the last few months as we’ve made national news at least twice: first the murders in Charleston; and now the historic floods. Yes, this is a difficult time for a lot of people. This troubled time is also a tremendous opportunity to live into what it means to be the Church by telling the story of Christ crucified in some very powerful ways.
Our Lutheran heritage gives us a unique lens to share the Gospel, proclaiming the message of God’s love, grace, and presence to a world that needs to hear more than ever the good news that God is for us, God stands with us, and God is already at work in and through us. Realizing this, a small group of us recognized that those who have been cleaning up after the flood not only need food, water, and cleaning supplies, but they needed a tangible reminder of God’s love and presence as well.
On Sunday October 11, Lutherans from 4 ELCA congregations and a family of four from a local nondenominational congregation who found out about us on Facebook, gathered to lead three mobile worship services in Coldstream, a neighborhood deeply affected by the recent floods. Sarah Rosebrock, Jennifer Leininger, and Dalton Leininger joined me to plan the service Saturday afternoon, and Rev. Tommy Lineberger (Program Director at Camp Kinard) provided elements and vessels for Communion on Sunday afternoon. All told, 22 people went to Coldstream to serve as a reminder that God was already there among them, and that they are close to our hearts.
The service was simple but powerful, and neighborhood people gathered with us to sing songs of faith, pray in hope, and share in Communion.
For me, this was a powerful reminder of one of the most basic beliefs we share — the Church is people gathered in the name of Jesus. A stool was our altar, roads and yards were our sanctuaries, and all of us were a little nervous to be joining with people we didn’t know for worship; yet as we spoke, sang, and ate together, the presence of God was there doing what God always does, sanctifying the mundane.
Where God is, everything becomes holy.
Where we are weak, God is strong.
Where we are lost, God calls, gathers, and equips saints to stand with us until we find our place.
Where we are broken, the healing work of God begins at the heart of our brokenness through the splash, a bite, and a sip.
We met God again in Coldstream this week, and we remembered that in God’s presence we can have joy even in the midst of our sorrow.