Reisterstown United Methodist Church

We Get By With a Little Help

Remember that last week I said there were TWO ways that Frederick Buechner found grace when he was in the hospital in Seattle, just trying to be able to look at his daughter who was on the verge of dying of anorexia? 

The second means of grace – the second way that he “heard God speak” or found God in the midst of that horrific time, he tells the story this way:

 …out of nowhere came two men, Bill Welch and Paul Beaman, may their names be praised. Both were ministers, it turned out, who, by some grapevine, had heard of what was going on and just appeared out of nowhere. Like dreams. They offered no suffocating good advice or platitudinous explanations of why bad things happen to reasonably good people. They just were there. They took us out to lunch and told us about the cathedral in Seattle, where there was a wonderful verspers service where my wife and I went. They were life-givers, life-savers, sent by God, I suspect. I don’t mean sent in the sense that he moved them there, but something in the mysterious air of the world wafted them there, because that air, like the rest of the world, proceeds from the mouth of God. (Crazy Holy Grace, page 30) 

Life is often messy. It is rarely perfect. On any given day, we have lots of stuff going on. And if we don’t, we can be sure that we are surrounded by people who do. When our lives are in shambles – when the chaos of life overwhelms – what do we do? The really scary thing to me is that I often see people I love simply withdraw. 

When some of our families are in chaos due to marital challenges or financial troubles or challenges with the kids, or even when there has been a death, often I see them withdraw. Maybe they are ashamed because their life isn’t perfect – or they think that if anyone knew they were having challenges they would be judged by the very people who should be available to love them even more – their faith family. Maybe they are afraid that they will become emotional and shed a few tears during worship. Maybe they fear that they will fall asleep during the sermon because they are so bone weary. Maybe they can’t face sitting in a pew where they always sat with their beloved. And maybe there are a million other reasons that they isolate themselves. 

You see that this is a two-way street – right? It’s about us in our own pain and it’s about how we reach others who are in pain. 

Last Saturday at the council planning retreat, we were looking at how we open this faith community to newcomers – and to each other. Many of us have been lifelong Reisterstownians. Through absolutely no fault of our own, it is easy to stay within our established groups and neglect to portray an openness that makes people want to be part of them. It’s normal human behavior. It’s hard to enter a group when everyone else is already established.

One of the council members mentioned several times that mindfulness is important. Being mindful. Being intentional. Listening and observing so that we are clearly available to each other – and especially to those who are new. 

It may be as simple as asking a newcomer if you can sit with them. It may be as simple as just showing up or asking if you can meet someone at an event that they might be interested in. It might be as simple as inviting someone to a tea (hint, hint). 

And when the magic happens and you actually connect – allowing that amazing alchemy to work its magic – healing that you don’t even know is needed may take place and offer both of you the kind of peace – the incarnate word speaks to you and through you. 

It just doesn’t get any better than that!

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