What is it then which draws us into community? The need to find a place of peace? The need to appease a nagging spouse? A desire for more connection, to be part of something bigger? Our own questions in the face of this weird and wonderful thing we call life? Questions in the face of that spectre of death upon our horizon? A curiosity which cannot be named? Or a hope, and a prayer, that in this space healing might occur, a mending of hearts might take place? I’m sure there are as many reasons, whether we can name them or not, which brought us through those doors for the first time, as there are people here this morning. Whomever you are, friends, visitors, supporters, long-time attenders, members, old and very new, it’s good to have you all with us this morning to celebrate membership. It is very special to celebrate these important milestones in people’s lives. In a way, the significance and importance of membership within a community like ours is captured more in the atmosphere this morning, more in the readings, the prayers, the liturgy we joined together in, and in the songs we sung, more in these things, than in my attempt now to express it in a few words. But it has something to do with the good news we have to share here.
Good News. First, that you are full of goodness: a good people, all in the process of life, ever-changing, and ever-renewing. Our hearts long for goodness, goodness in others, goodness in community, goodness in our world. Without it our hearts ache. In our longing after the good, we cultivate it, we birth it forth, around us, and in our world; like Jesus, who lived according to that deep goodness, which is within each one of us, within everyone whom we meet – a deep goodness. The Second bit of good news is that love will make us whole. The love of the spirit, the love of the sacred present, the love of God, the love of the indefinable, which can be felt, and yet we struggle to name it. That love which forces us to cry out for justice, and feel compassion for the dispossessed. That love which knows us better than we know ourselves. That love so great that it envelops the very worst within us, the very worst of humanity. Love which embraces us, no matter our hateful thoughts, no matter our judgments, no matter the company we keep, no matter… Love can and will make us whole. And that is our good news, that we are full of goodness, and that love will make us whole. And in community we remind ourselves of that fact.
For, though we are full of goodness, we are full of a lot of other things too. And when pressure is high, when the world is pressing in, and it takes all our will to keep the storm clouds within our heads at bay, that’s when community, when congregational life, can recharge us, and remind us that it will all be okay. And, it will all be okay. Here we can and do make the choice, to live according to the good within us. And when we make that choice, and are accompanied along the way by others making that choice, what is the possibility? Witnessing the power of that good in others? That is a sacred to be celebrated, a sacred amongst us. That is Kingdom present. Let us be here, let us be present to one another. Determined enough not to turn away, but to lean in more deeply. Letting some of those hardened places within us soften, and yield new possibilities. New Life. Let us learn what it is to bring this good news into a world aching for it, moving beyond these walls, to enact this good out there; to move beyond all walls, all lines in the sand, and demonstrate the boundless nature of God’s love, the light which is shining for all, the cup over flowing…
That is our good news, that we are full of goodness, and that love will make us whole.