Five years ago I joined St. George’s Church here in Nashville and started attending daily service, seven days a week. I was at a low point then: surgeries for breast cancer, a divorce, money problems, anonymous letters in the mail and a bout with lymphedema in my left arm. Quite frankly, I needed God in a big way.
I’m often asked why I go to church every morning. I was always a church-goer on Sundays but in denominations that concentrated their message on guilt and shame. After 50 years, I was about to give up; I had sinned so many times and no matter how hard I tried, I would sin again. It seemed that it was pointless to even try anymore.
Taking in the body and blood of Christ in every day at Eucharist at St. George’s these past five years has changed all that. I’ve heard consistent messages until I now actually believe them:
1. I am a sinner; no matter how hard I try, I will sin again
2. Everyone is a sinner; no one is better than another
3. God loves me (really loves me!) even though I am a sinner; “You are my daughter, in whom I am well-pleased.”
4. God sent His son to die for me so that I can live an abundant life
5. God is a wonderful Father who wants the best for me
6. Through God’s grace and mercy, I am forgiven my sins
7. God never promised my life would be easy, but He did promise that He is right next to me every step of every day; He’s not a silent partner
8. God has given me certain spiritual gifts to help Him renew His kingdom here on Earth
9. I am commanded to love everyone I meet, not just people who are like me or can do something for me
10. I have an obligation to share the awe and wonder of God and Jesus with everyone I meet, inviting them to read the Bible, join me at church and lead a discipled life.
As I leave church every morning, I’m reminded of these beautiful messages, but also that there are other spirits at work trying to derail me and take me back to the world of guilt and shame.
The Rev. Sarah Puryear shared a perfect quotation at her sermon this past Friday morning from C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”:
“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
Going to church every morning gives me the strength to push all those wild animals back and let the larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in for the rest of the day.
How do you start your day? Does it fortify you against the evil spirits that rush at you like wild animals?
Blessings, my friend,
(Lion photograph from my first trip to South Africa with St. George's in October 2007)