Last weekend at our church we started a series called “This is Us”. Awesome TV show aside, I’m thankful for a chance to step back and look at our family and what defines us as a church community.
At one point during the sermon we read together this paragraph from our core values:
We are an authentic community that celebrates the hurts and joys of life together. First Trinity is a vibrant community of people with varied backgrounds and experiences who are sharing life together. We are joyful people who laugh and rejoice in the highs of life and hold each other up through the lows. We are a family who supports and encourages each other on a lifelong journey of faith.
For some organizations, a core value sheet is more of “hoped for dreams of what we wish we were.” However, when Pastor continued his sermon after we read that paragraph by saying: “This is us.” I got goosebumps. It’s true. This IS us.
Our church does know how to celebrate well! (If you need proof, look back over our Facebook page of all the fun/funny celebrations we’ve had the past couple weeks as we’ve thanked God for the 15 years Pastor Chuck has been here.) Perhaps what I love more is that we live the “lows” part of life together just as well as the “highs”.
This weekend we also celebrated All Saints Day in the Church. One part of the service each year is a slideshow with pictures of church members and loved ones who have died in the past two years. As they scrolled past in each of the services this year, here are some of the things I caught out of the corner of my eye:
- A young boy, seeing his cousin’s picture on the screen, bursting into tears, and being wrapped in the arms of his mom who didn’t try to quiet him, but just let him cry.
- A woman say to her husband “Wow, she’s lost a lot of people lately” as if making note to check in later.
- The realization of many that life is precious and has no guarantees as a middle school student’s picture also appeared on the screen.
- A high school student shocked when she saw an older member on screen that she didn’t realize had died more than six months ago. A dad scooting closer to comfort.
- Hands held.
- Tears shed with zero shame.
- Friends and family embraced.
This is us. What a gift! We laugh and play and worship (this week’s theme) and enjoy life together. But we also weep and cry and comfort as we walk through life. We help each other remember we’re not alone!
I love that when we talk about holidays, even ones that can be somber like this one, we use the word “celebrate”. We celebrate All Saints Day because these members of our church family are living ultimate paradise in heaven. We celebrate because we will see them again because of the hope in heaven. We celebrate together, yes even the lows, because that’s what families do.
This is us.