Today, my congregation welcomed four new people into membership. Rather than a traditional sermon, each of the four shared testimonies. This was a very rich time, and story telling is such an integral part of passing on faith.

At the same time, I realized that these times of sharing have the potential to be quite awkward. What if the story-teller is nervous? What if someone’s theology doesn’t quite match what the congregation generally believes?

And then I thought…

God forbid that we become a community where stories can’t be shared; or where we insist on homogeneity of belief; or where we can’t offer a safe place to be vulnerable and to grow as Jesus’ disciples.

A safe place, a shelter, a haven…

We have nothing to offer each other, except a haven.

There are times when I’m very saddened by my congregation. Of course, there are the current challenges of discerning what we want to do about LGBTQ membership. In the back corner of my brain, I always have this lurking fear that there will always be someone in my community (as I broadly define it) that won’t feel welcome in my congregation.

And then today, I was talking with someone who was feeling criticized (rather than supported) because of a particularly hard parenting challenge.

Oh, God – why can’t we offer a haven to each other?

Frankly, there are times when I feel something a bit like despair. How do I maintain hope when I can’t see any possible way to get from where I am to where I want to be? Recently, I began reminding myself, “I believe in the resurrection.”

And here’s where things get disjointed. This video is cheesy and highly produced, and yet I appreciate it. I first saw it last year, and remembered it again yesterday.

“He isn’t here!” Well, you didn’t see that coming, did you?