“Some….times in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow….So, if we are wise…we know that there’s always tomorrow….”
“Lean on me. When you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on…for, it won’t be long, ‘till I’m going to need, somebody to lean on.”
I know you’re singing these words in your head as you read them. You’re welcome for getting a song stuck in your head (likely for the rest of your week).
On Sunday at Street Church, our guest preacher Mr. Brian Vaughan, LPC of St George’s Episcopal (a former Roman Catholic Priest) led us in our collective homily around the passage in 1 Corinthians (1:18-24) of what it means to be “fools for Christ.” What does it mean to own our uniqueness in the world as Christ followers when the self-help philosopher’s of today’s age tell us we can solve all our problems by ourselves. As Christ followers, we recognize that we are not meant to face the trials of this life alone. We have been given the power of Christ, through our community, that has been placed around us to help stand up in times of trouble.
As Brian led our discussion, he asked the congregation to name their favorite songs as a way to introduce us to the anthems we live by. We had an impromptu hymn sing of “amazing grace” and I even had the opportunity to lead us in a sing-a-long of the well known classic “Lean on me” by Bill Withers (video here).
The song fell out of the congregation’s lips so easily. Music has a way of bringing us all together. It is why it is such a central part of worship. Then I wondered how many of them truly believed the words they sang and if they really believed they had someone to lean on.
What we have learned over and over from our village of Micah neighbors is that people do not become homeless simply because they lost housing. Instead, as Allan Graham, author of “Welcome Homeless” puts it, “[our neighbors] become homeless when there is a catastrophic loss of relationship.”
As our service lingered on what it means to be “fools” for Christ, something beautiful started to unravel. Folks in our community started to share their heart aches with vulnerability and full disclosure. Unafraid of what others would think, they instead decided to offer their woes to this community and to God’s ears. One woman, a new member named Patty, shared with the group that she has just received news of a stage IV cancer diagnosis and some upcoming decisions she was facing around chemo treatment options. Understandably, she had questions for God.
“How can I face this? What does the Bible say about beating something like this?”
As a Pastor, these are the hardest questions to grapple with, because the truth is, we are all wrestling with the same questions. It’s part of the journey of faith to reconcile where we place our hope when we inevitably face the trials of this world.
The community offered words of encouragement, personal cancer survivor stories, and ways that she can lean on God through her fear. I reminded the church that we are building our internal spiritual resilience through our ability to share the pains of our heart and praying for one another as a body.
To the world, we are fools for believing that prayer works. But we believe that no matter what we may face, we recognize that our prayers are heard and they are a powerful tool to give us strength, endurance, and hope for tomorrow. As a community that prays together, we believe that whether in this life or the next, God holds us close through the power of our faith and the church family placed around us to help support us in our time of need.
For our community, this is an act of reconciliation by the Spirit who brings us into relationship with one another when perhaps our earthly family has been estranged. This is a gift for our people and teaches us all what it means to be in a healthy relationship and to center ourselves in the hope that is offered through the good news of Jesus Christ.
Sundays have become a full day of community and activities for our neighbors. In addition to breakfast, we are offering lunch for those who want to stay for our Street Choir and community meetings happening after service. Over the last two weeks we have been hosting a two-part community forum to ask our neighbors what they hope and dream our community to be. Together we have been answering the question around what does it mean to “gather.sow.grow” together and what kind of resources can we offer to our community? We are working towards developing a “micahstreetchurch.org” website that will be catered for our neighbors finding resources and care for one another. This community is building resilience through relationships in Christ and within the body.
Like prayer, music also has a way of bringing us all together. This is why our Street Choir has been such a special ministry that is blossoming after church every Sunday. We have about ten folks who have been consistently joining us and new people have been showing up to be a part. Even individuals who don’t identify as Christian, have been showing up to connect with others around the one thing that unites us all: music. For me, that is a beautiful thing. The community is invited to sing with us on Sundays at 12:30 PM for a time of relational engagement with our neighbors, making music together!
May we keep singing, keep praying, and Don’t Stop Believin’ that God hears our prayers and lifts us up as a community who is called to care for one another because …
“We all need somebody to lean on.”
Grace and Peace,
Community Ministries Chaplain
Micah Ecumenical Ministries