I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord!' Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. Psalm 122:1-4
I was a college student and it had been a rough year in Louisiana. David Duke had run for governor and there was a lot of horrible things being said and done in Louisiana. Thankfully, he had lost the election, but the state was left in pain. Then Mayo Angelou came to campus. She visited with many of the students and gave a talk at Brown Chapel. After the introductions by the College President, recounting Angelou's many accomplishments, she stood up to talk. Angelou thanked the college and the president for hosting her, and then, reflecting on the conversations she had with students that day, she said, "I'm glad that I am here; not because I need to be here, but because you need me to be here." Then she began to share honestly and openly with us from her wisdom.
It was a profound moment in my life. She was right. We needed her to be there with us. We needed her perspective, experience, and wisdom as our young minds tried to make sense of everything that had happened during the gubernatorial campaign. In addition to that, we needed to gather as a community in that chapel, reflecting on things in the presence and power of the symbols of our faith.
Sitting there in the chapel, I began to understand the power of the gathered community and the blessings of sacred space. There are times when we need to gather in community in the sacred space of our faith. We need to worship together and give ourselves into God's keeping. We experienced the need in a profound way on 9-11 and after the Marathon bombing.
Yet, we also experience it each week. We may not notice it during the ordinary course of our lives, but we have a need to gather as a community in the sacred space of our church and worship God. When we do this on a regular basis, it builds us up and strengthens our spirits. When we neglect it, our connection to God and to each other slowly begins to deteriorate, and when times are difficult, we discover that our spirits are dry. We do not have the spiritual resources we need to carry us through the rough waters.
September is a good time to renew our habit of gathering for worship each Sunday. It has been a good summer, and we have had opportunities for vacation and rest. Now that we have started the more intense routine that fall brings, it is good that we can join together each week for worship. I look forward to gathering each week as we celebrate our faith, give thanks to God, and fill our spirits.
Your brother in Christ,