In yesterday’s (June 25th) sermon I talked about the need to know what you believe. Only by knowing what we believe can we be intentional about living it out in the moments of our days. And that’s what each of us is called to do, to live out our faith as best we can.
One belief foundational to my faith, and which I try hard to live out, is that we are called to be love for one another. Love without judgment. Love first, when you can. Seek relationship over condemnation. And experience tells me this happens best through listening – not with my ears but with my heart.
This is not just my faith-belief; I see it lived out in our congregation as well. Living together with such a diversity of opinion of what is needed in our country and our world, it is our commitment to love without judgment, to love seeking understanding that makes our congregation strong.
I was honored to watch and participate in the unfolding of this in worship yesterday. When the young lady walked in, in the midst of my sermon, it was clear that she felt the conviction of her faith. Interrupting our planned worship to tell us why, she believed, we were on the “wrong path.” Interrupting in an attempt to “save our souls” and to bring us “back to the true Jesus” and “away from your pagan practices.”
Standing with an open heart, I listened to her fear and her determination. In her actions we recognized not anger in her shouted words, but a desperation to be heard. And so space was made in that moment and we listened. Approached by one of our members and invited to sit and talk about her concerns, she chose to leave instead. She wasn’t looking for relationship (not this time, at least). She wanted to be heard, and she was.
I am in awe of the acceptance I felt from our congregation members, both in the moment and talking about it afterwards. Acceptance of the interruption to the morning’s plans. Acceptance of a faith-view strongly divergent from our congregation’s. She was living out her faith, just as we live ours.
Acceptance born of love brought redemption into that moment. Redemption instead of condemnation. Redemption – hers and our own.
Our faith is lived out in life’s interruptions. And in this instance, loving All really does mean All.