showing up

I stumbled into becoming a member of the Ministerial Alliance; I wasn’t intending to join anything. I thought it was an open meeting (pre-pandemic,) and that I had been invited. I was just trying to show up, which is pretty minimal, and still a lot for me on a Saturday morning. But when it became awkwardly obvious that I had accidentally happened into a members-only meeting, the easiest solution seemed a $35 check. 

My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 (CEB)

Honestly, I can’t think of any organization to which I subscribe. The fact that New Covenant does not have membership suits me just fine. And I don’t like meetings; I avoid them whenever possible. My personality chafes against structures. I did attend Interfaith Alliance for a bit. I tried. But Wednesdays are the closest thing I have to a day off; a midday meeting messes me up. So, I turned that over to Lee Ann.

Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans. Is. 55:9 (CEB)

The Ministerial Alliance is primarily an organization of Black pastors in Champaign-Urbana and Vicinity. Women and white clergy have been recently embraced as members, and I am in the minority. Another professional space where I have no seminary degrees and no denominational affiliation. Reminding me of Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the other.”

The importance of showing up reared its persistent head in my spiritual consciousness when I saw the announcement for the installation of new officers of the Ministerial Alliance. No, I hadn’t voted. Neither had I attended any meetings for a while. But, as Lee Ann said a couple weeks ago, Lent is for Listening. So I got back at it. Zoom on Saturday morning, Installation Celebration on Sunday afternoon. 

I miss Black Church worship. I know I don’t look like I belong, and I would prefer to lose myself in anonymity, but the style resonates with my spirit. Somehow it was part of my childhood, our choice of church when we traveled, and cassette tapes transported me into praise. Nowadays, it is my personal playlist on my headphones. 

Yes, you will go out with celebration, and you will be brought back in peace. Even the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you; all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Is. 55:12 (CEB)

Sunday, the Bethel AME choir sang beautifully, and Rev. Dr. Perrico Robinson preached an on-fire sermon. I’m sorry that I didn’t invite you. It didn’t occur to me to publicize the service, despite the explicit email invitation to do so. I still have so much to learn. There will be other opportunities upcoming. I hope you will join me, as so very often, the first step is showing up. 

Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and don’t return there without watering the earth, making it conceive and yield plants and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater, so is my word that comes from my mouth; it does not return to me empty. Instead, it does what I want, and accomplishes what I intend. Is. 55:10-11 (CEB)

So often we grumble about the rain and snow. We don’t understand what God wants, nor what the Lord intends. But the trees begin to bud and soon it will be time for planting. May the ground of our hearts be well-watered, may we spread the seed generously, may we be grateful for abundance, and may we eat with thankful hearts to the God who not only shows up, but is already here.  -Renée

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