Tuesday, June 25, 2013
We chanted the words over and over again during an evening service at Glasgow's St. Andrew's Cathedral just moments after becoming annoyed with each other at our inability to find the church after seemingly walking all over the city. It was our first and only night in Glasgow, and there were a million places I wanted to be other than sitting or kneeling in a Catholic Church - the church where I am normally made to feel unwelcome, the place where I cringe when I am not invited to a table behind which I normally stand and invite all to come. But it is in this church - this place I did not want to be - where I felt myself paralyzed by grace for the first time in what is labeled a "Summer of Deep Engagement."
I've sung the lyrics before, "Do not be afraid I am with you. I have called you each by name." But the song continued with words that stung me, words that crept into each crevice of my heart. "I praise you, O God. I bless you, O God. You have rescued me." My search for rescue, a search I did not envision to be part of this summer of deep engagement, was ignited with these words.
I was one week into sabbatical and already aware of a need to be rescued. I've developed some rather unhealthy addictions that are preventing me from experiencing the fullness of joy that comes when one is in the presence of the Lord. I'm addicted to success over faithfulness, growth in numbers over growth in discipleship, and dare I say a devotion to the church over a devotion to Christ. I've gotten caught up in doing instead of being - because there's been so much to do and expectations placed upon me that have added pressure to the doing.
I need to be rescued. I want the first question I ponder at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon to not be "How many people were in worship today" but instead "How did God work in people's lives today?" I need to be rescued from the hold of an institution that asks about numbers more than transformed lives. I need to be rescued from my tendency to "do, do, do" so that I can be - be with God, be the person God has created me to be, be alive, be filled with joy.
The rescue efforts have started.
O God, I do praise you. I do bless you. You are rescuing me.
And when the service was over, the priest stood and offered this benediction, "Go and announce the Gospel." These words are becoming my prayer - that I'll be the kind of person who is constantly announcing the good news - and that the congregation where I am privileged to be a pastor will do the same. Let's be rescued from whatever it is that is preventing us from this one task: announcing the Gospel through the very lives we live.