We Need Everyone
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
These are words from my childhood. I grew up in a happy home in which I knew I was loved, had everything I needed, and where voices were rarely raised. From the time I could first talk, I was taught to be polite, and to keep my emotions in check. I learned to choose my words carefully. I learned optimism. I learned that if I was responsible, hard-working, followed the rules, and was always cordial and polite, I would succeed.
In many ways, this has served me well. I have mastered the art of the “non-anxious presence” which helps any time I enter a hospital room or am with someone who is overwhelmed, or who needs to make a confession. I want to believe my general optimism is fueled by faith and hope and love and I certainly don’t want to give that up. I am proud that I not only work hard, but also enjoy honing skills and contributing something to the greater whole.
And yet, I confess that my “steady presence” doesn’t feel appropriate for this time in our country. Because of decades of practice, it is not natural for me to show a lot of emotion - so please bear with me. I am sad. I am angry. But you may not be able to see it. Today that troubles me because today deserves an outpouring of grief and anger. I want to stay with the discomfort and agony long enough that I can access my emotions more fully. I need to learn constructive outrage and I want it to pour out of me like a powerful waterfall. I confess that it not easy or comfortable for me. But this is not a time for easy or comfortable.
One of the things that has impacted me most through worshiping with Macedonia Baptist Church is how emotions seem so much more accessible in their worship service than in ours. Today our “cerebral” style of worship service doesn’t feel adequate. We certainly need to be thinking: to protest, to strategize, and to act. We also need to feel deeply – to lament, to cry, to argue, and to muster strength to continue to praise the God who is with us through it all. For such a time as this: we need all of this. And everyone.