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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Easter 5C John 13:1-5

When my family and I came to our current church in about four years ago, I had just resigned from the pastorate of a church, completely devastated emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I sat in SS class and in worship services and sobbed for 2 months. I had 2 degrees in theology and 8 years of full time ministry, pastoring was all I had ever planned to do. Yet in July of 2000 I experienced severe post partum depression after the birth of my second daughter. After two years of attempting to pastor in spite of the black clouds of depression, I had to leave the stress of the ministry to heal.
In the beginning, I was so broken all I could do was cry. I couldn’t sing. I could barely participate in Sunday School. All of my adult life, I had done nothing but lead, teach, and preach and here I was simply occupying a pew, absorbing God’s presence. Yet God knew that is exactly what I needed. No one asked me to be any different. No one insisted I stand and praise when all I could do was sit and cry. Anytime Pastor gave an altar call, you could find me kneeling. When I needed someone to pray with me, I looked up and there was someone. When I couldn’t look up into anyone’s face, I still felt the pressure of a pastor’s hand on my back, letting me know that I was not alone.
I was given space to find where I best fit into this community. My husband and I were welcomed into a wonderful Sunday School class that three years later—we now teach.
The first year I served as a sponsor in the senior high group. I didn’t do much but attend one fall retreat and lead a discussion group on wed. night. I felt so guilty thinking here I am educated, ordained, and experienced and this is all I’m doing in church. But no one belittled me for that. The teens befriended me, ministering more to me than I ever did to them.
I found grace in the nursery. My daughter was welcomed with open arms. In the children’s department, my older daughter the same welcome from the children's pastor.
I was graciously asked to join in Women’s Bible study. When I needed advice, the leader invited me to her home where we prayed and I received God’s grace.
When we moved to another house a few months later I called the church to ask the adminstrative assistant if she knew of anyone who could help us load a truck. She offered to help us and she and her husband came to load and unload our truck.
When I tried to teach children’s church and discovered I was still too wounded to handle it, the children's pastor wiped my tears, hugged me and said let me know when you’re ready to serve. This year that time came.
I had to learn to allow others to not only wipe my tears, but wash my feet.
I learned this
1. By participating in a worshipping community of faith
2. By allowing the pastors to minister to me.
3. By listening to Pastor preaching about the grace of God that has no limits. God would go to any lengths to rescue me…. God continues to rescue me from the depths of my own depression and despair.
I have seen God reaching out through Christ to embrace me through this church. I experience this transforming grace in this community of faith. I continue to heal in order that I might praise God and anticipate eternal celebration with God and redeemed creation.
John 20:1 says, “Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away.” I know this is true because I have experienced resurrection hope in this community of faith.


Mike said...

This is a good story.

I didn't know half of this.

Kelly said...