I was invited by members of my church congregation on Saturday to attend a leadership conference for the local Methodist church leaders. I had not been sure if I wanted to go, to give up a Saturday, at least part of it, with my girls. I am on a couple of committees at our church, and I have recently been named Christian Education Director, which means I get to facilitate Sunday school and vacation bible school. For those of you that have been reading me for a bit of time, you know that the journey with religion in general, and with this church in particular, has been challenging at times. We all but left the church six months ago because our beloved pastor was moved to another congregation. The new pastor isn’t bad; he just isn’t her.
However, we all as a family, decided that 2009 would be a year of recommitment to our local community congregation. So, in that vein, I decided that I would go to the leadership conference. It was held at a local church to us, very small and old. It was going to assist me in where to begin in my new educator role in the church. Teaching is not new to me; teaching bible verses and stories is. However, I was undaunted and looked forward to the new information.
What I didn’t expect, in the midst of materials and conversations, was the power that being in their small, old sanctuary at that church would have on me. We opened in their church, a small building with old pews and beautiful woodwork. For the purposes of our training day, there was a large screen projection television at the front. It was showing short film clips about how to recreate the Methodist church, and its meaning in our lives. To get back to basics. To work together. To reframe what church means besides being a building. I was glued. I was moved. And no other moment existed except right then and there.
I was emotionally raw for the remainder of the day and evening. It was hard to describe, even to my beloved, why the impact of the words and images were so strong. The renewed focus that the film talked about was missionary work; working toward eradicating diseases such as HIV/AIDS in the world; hunger; poverty; growing our congregations that are slowly dwindling; ministry to children; and embracing others in their diversity and difference. All speaking to me, speaking to my heart. It was hard to speak of it without feeling filled with emotion, without the tears sitting in my eyes.
As I reflected on the day, at first I thought that the impact was so profound because I had been in the presence of the Lord, felt Him and his angels close in the church, and that was what moved me. But, I realized that it was more than that; I feel God’s presence everywhere, all the time. His presence there was no fuller to me than anywhere else. Then, I realized what it was.
You see, lately, every day, I see myself more and more in front of groups of people, by the hundreds, delivering a message and speaking to them in a very personal way. I see myself having a direct impact; I hear my voice, I feel my arms wrapping around someone in a massive bear hug; I know what is coming for me, and I know that it is big, bigger than I ever dreamed possible.
Sitting in that sanctuary on Saturday, being surrounded by so many like minded people, and hearing the words on the video that speak to everything that I am about, I felt it deeper than I had yet. There are big, great and powerful things in store for me.
And, it absolutely overwhelmed me. All I really want to do in this world is make a difference, touch a life, help someone in some way. I want to keep passing on what I have learned, what I know in my heart as truth, pay it forward and see it continue without end.
So, any gift given to me that enhances my growth, you can be certain that I will gladly regift it, to every one of you, and every other human I can possibly encounter in this world. Life is much too short to keep all of our gifts and treasures to ourselves; we need to share them, pay them forward, and give them to those that truly need them.
This is my mission, my work, my life, my purpose.