Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

iStock 13056811 200x200Go out into the world in peace. Have courage! Hold fast to what is good.
Render to no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak,
help the suffering. Honor all people. Love and serve the Lord your God,
in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I grew up in a Presbyterian church. Week after week our service would end as many Protestant services do – with a final hymn and a benediction. In our case, Rev. Bell would process out during the final hymn, pausing at the second pew on the right to give his wife a chance to join him. Then he would stand at the back of the sanctuary, raise his hands, and bless the congregation on our way. I always loved that moment. Even when I was a teenager who had spent most of the service quietly writing a letter to my pen pal, I loved it. Even though it became something of a game to predict which of his three “regulars” Rev. Bell would use, I loved it.

Those blessings, ordinary, widely used and known, repeated week after week, are woven right into my very bones so that phrases pop into my mind unbidden:

  • Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the week
  • The Lord’s face shine upon you
  • Have Courage!
  • Hold fast to what is good!

In this American season of fear and anxiety it is this phrase - hold fast to what is good! - that is holding me steady. Hold fast - This seems to me to be the very best way to be prepared to face the grave issues we are facing as a national community, with our hearts and minds fortified by all that is good.

I am holding fast to my family and friends, and to our beloved church community. I am holding fast to each of you in my prayers every day. Holding fast to all the ways we are finding to be together despite COVID: worship; meetings of our community life team, green team, theology on tap, and choir; racial justice discussion gatherings; and outreach from our member care team.

I am holding fast to the communion of saints – those who have gone before and those who are still among us on earth. During October I will be lifting up some of their stories during our worship services. And I invite you to share the stories of the saints whose lives and work are sustaining you in this time of pandemic, fight for racial justice, and political anxiety. They don’t have to be famous or “great” on the world’s stage to be worthy -- they just have to be yours. Email me what you would like to share with the congregation, along with a picture or two, and together we will plan an “All Saints Day” celebration to ground us in what is good, and empower us to keep working for the beloved community here on earth.