real life.

dangerAt midnight, 12 am on Saturday, I lost cell service. A little “danger” signal appeared in the top left of my screen as a notification that I would not be able to text, call, or access any web resources including news and social media. I hoped the issue was temporary and so I went about my day.

Saturday morning we had a meeting at church. During that time I had the opportunity to interact with other members and engage in dialogue about the impact Highrock has had on our lives as well as the future we envision for our church. During that conversation I referred to my, real life by which I met, my day-to-day life outside of Highrock. For some Christians a comment like that is an indication that church is just a Sunday habit and that “Christian” is not a part of their daily living. Another member reflected my comment back to me, giving me the opportunity to evaluate the hidden meaning in my statement.

Sunday I went to church again. This time for service, as I do every Sunday. I saw people I know, people I didn’t know, people I hadn’t seen for a while, people I pray for, people I used to pray for, shook hands, smiled, exchanged hugs, and shared a moment with one person that made a lasting impression. Then, I prepared myself to receive the sermon. Pastor Dave preached about Justice and God’s Judgement. God’s judgement is always a hard topic, at least for me. We want justice but we don’t want judgement. I know that is definitely true for me.

I also reflected more on my real life comment. What was it that I meant?

After the sermon we took communion. Together with other believers, I was reminded of God’s ultimate sacrifice and gift to me, to us, to this world. Then we sang. There is something special about Highrock and worship. When we sing together and lift our praises to God in unison, the experience is incredible.

Then, I realized the meaning underlying my real life comment. Highrock, for me, is like a little slice of heaven — heaven here on Earth.

Let me explain. Every week I live my life. I spend time with God and pray on a daily basis. But largely, my life is lived outside of Christian community. In most spaces I enter, I am the only Christian I know. It is okay, I don’t feel ostracized by the people I know and meet because of my faith. Rather, I often feel welcomed and loved by people around me. I am accepted for who I am and, fortunately, I do not have to hide my faith. More than that, I adore the people in my real life. I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by accepting, brilliant, kind, enthusiastic, generous, helpful, and morally conscious people on a daily basis. When I go to Highrock though, I am surrounded by Christians. I get to share space and time with people that share my heart. Once a week I am in community with other believers, and together we serve, worship, and learn. While I am blessed in my daily life, Highrock offers me a space where I can just be. There is no doing, no striving, no goals to attain. It is time to just be. Be in community. Be present. Be in the presence of God. I have my real life which, I love. But, I also experience a little piece of heaven, here on Earth, at Highrock.

After church I finally accepted my phone was not going to repair itself and went to the store. Fortunately I had 15 days left on my extended warranty and I received a replacement for free. As I reconnected with the greater world, I learned about the violence in Pittsburg. My heart sank with the heaviness of the reality of our world. Here was another group of people that was in community with each other, worshipping their God, the same God I worship, and they were gunned down. One minute they were in their safe place, enjoying their little slice of heaven here on Earth, and the next their world was shattered by violence.

Our world is filled with so much brokenness, hate, and evil. Last week two black men were killed at the grocery store after the gunman failed to enter a predominately black church. Saturday, a group of Jewish believers were killed in their synagogue. These are just the latest two killings in a string of killings that have plagued our country — people killed for the crime of…. of what? Living life? Being black? Being Jewish? It’s too much for the human mind and senses to grapple with.

Humans of New York is doing a series on the Rwandan Genocide. Another act of extreme hate. Twenty-five years ago nearly one million people were killed in the span of 100 days while the world idly watched. This woman survived the genocide. Her heart-wrenching story is told in 9 instagram posts. At the end, she laments about the impossibility of forgiving the people that destroyed her childhood. Her family. Her life. What does justice look like? How do people heal and recover from such extreme hate? Is forgiveness possible? Is it enough? There are no easy answers. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, also featured on Humans of New York, thinks about these questions as he ushers Rwanda forward in the aftermath of genocide.

What is the path forward for the U.S.? Does forgiveness have a key role to play? Are forgiveness and reconciliation even possible? Will we see justice in our country? I don’t have any answers. I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors others in our country face on a daily basis. I don’t know what it’s like to be scared because of the color of my skin or to experience institutional discrimination because of my race, ethnicity, or religion. Our country is hurting right now. What does the future hold for the United States and Americans? More death? More killing? More fear and hurt and pain? We need leaders that can accept responsibility and bring this country together. We need to move forward in love and peace and find ways to heal. We need justice.

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