Showing Up

Dear South Church Member & Friends,

            First, a word of thanks to everyone who assisted with Holy Week and Easter Sunday worship. The helping hands of so many folks behind the scenes made for a wonderful and meaningful worship time. And I want to add a special “thank you” to our Music Director and Organist Al Adair, to the member of the Chancel Choir, and to the other musicians who participated in worship.

            Recently I read an article titled “Church Is What We Create with Each Other” by a writer named Erin O. White, who belongs to a small Methodist church in western Massachusetts. Here’s a portion of what she wrote:

For a long time announcements bothered me. I thought they kept us from what mattered, that they were housekeeping, business best conducted somewhere else. Was now really the time to talk about pancake breakfasts and broadband networks? But I’ve since come to understand that yes, actually, now is the time. Because I’ve learned—over many, many years—that church isn’t about order or quiet or even ritual so much as it is about showing up. For yourself, for God, and for the people around you who need to feel—just as you do—that the blessings and burdens of being a human are not theirs to bear alone.

            I thought about that article, especially the part about “showing up," when on Easter morning we read from John’s gospel 20:1-18. The story focuses on Mary Magdalene, who “showed up” at the tomb before sunrise. As far as we can tell, she didn’t come expecting a miracle or a resurrection but still she was there, perhaps to experience once again (as Erin White puts it) “the blessings and burdens of being a human.”

            Because she showed up and stuck around even after the disciples left for home, Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the Risen Christ, who called her by name. This is a powerful, enduring lesson for the church: that we are not mostly about order or ritual, but about showing up, faithfully and expectantly.

            As we move into the Easter season and into Spring (and hopefully to warmer weather!), I would invited us all to think and to pray about where we are being called to “show up.” Maybe it’s with family and friends who are in need of companionship? Maybe it’s with a group or community organization that needs our support? As the saint of the church Clarence Jordan once said, “The resurrection places Jesus on this side of the grave, here and now, in the midst of life…The Good News of the resurrection is not that we shall die and go home to him, but that he is risen and come home to us.”

            I will conclude by mentioning two South Church programs that you might consider showing up to: First, our GriefShare grief support ministry continues to thrive and is a wonderful place of support. They meet again on Tuesday, April 17 at 7:00 pm. Second, this month we are starting a Cancer Support Group, that will meet on Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00 pm. Please consider “showing up”!

Grace and peace, Mark