Tom is always up first. No matter the day, he’s the early riser. That means when I come downstairs, provided I’m early enough, a radio program called With Heart and Voice will greet me. Well orchestrated old hymns. Quite beautiful. Lovely way to start the day.
Sunday School, church service, out to lunch with friends, quiet afternoons that lead to delightful Sunday naps, and then whatever we want. Today I’m ruminating.
I had an epiphany in Sunday School this morning. A woman spoke of her years attending the church from whence we happened to come. We were speaking of our (now) Lutheran service that begins every single week with confession and forgiveness. She said that was one thing she missed during her stint at the less liturgical church. But then she equated the frequent altar calls at that church and others like it with our confession. Interesting correlation I thought. And yes, perhaps that would be the best use of a regular altar call — a weekly coming clean.
At St. Paul’s ELCA we do it this way: Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
Should I be ashamed to admit that every week I need to pray this all over again? Yes, maybe. But I’m in good company. No one makes it through the week, all week long blameless. And, if I say I have no sin, I’m only deceiving myself.
Another “aha” moment came during the children’s sermon. Pastor Brian asked the kiddos what they thought our “passing of the peace” is all about… Every week, mid service we greet one another, shaking hands and saying something like “the peace of Christ be with you”. It’s often shortened to “peace” or “peace of Christ” or, if I catch someone’s eye from across several pews and an aisle, I’ve been known to point and flash the peace sign, two fingers up making a ‘V’ — ’70’s style peace.
Anyway, that’s what we do, and Pastor explained to the kids that this is our way of practicing peacemaking. When we leave church, peace is something we can take with us into all the world: school, work, sports, neighborhoods. Regardless how big or small our world is — take peace, make peace, give peace away.
And now in my head I’m singing Give Peace a Chance. Isn’t that just what Jesus would have us do? Give peace a chance, starting with me and you…take it, make it, share it.
So before we even got to the message for big people I was encouraged, spurred on to love and good works (like peacemaking). I guess that’s why I try not to neglect meeting together, that’s why I love going to church, that’s why I love Sundays!