Hard Things

Yesterday, we celebrated the Reign of Christ with a a celebration of the new year in the church. We offered our prayers in the midst of these seasons — in the midst of Lent. We brought rocks forward as symbols of the hardest things that we are carrying through our wildest places right now. There was an invitation to add words for those concerns. And so, upon these rocks, there are prayers for health, guilt, pain, family and surprisingly (though it should not be) love. Love is hard to welcome. After we shared these prayers, I read my favorite Easter poem and we sang an Easter hymn.

Admittedly, I struggled with this moment in worship. As the organ led us through this wilderness of prayer, as I watched members of this beautiful church line up to offer their prayer, I wanted to say something. It’s always my challenge in ministry and in life. I have always wanted to possess that magical superpower of being able to say the right thing that would make everything better, but there are no such words. There is nothing that I can say that will really roll that stone away. That’s what God does.

But, this feeling stuck with me. I carried it into my afternoon as I sat with a bowl of chili on my porch reading Peter Block’s Community. Block encourages us to look at those things that we label as problems as possibilities. He talks about how we look toward one leader to address those big problems disrupting our sense of community, but this just gets us stuck. By centering our energy around one leader, we let our worst fears lead. We don’t create enough room to roll away that stone. We let it wedge right there and then get mad at it. This is where I want to start talking about it. This is where I want to give it a name and somehow allow for healing just by giving it a name, but it takes more than that. Somehow, we have to believe that God has no hands but our own. We have to roll away the stone ourselves, instead of waiting for God to do it. Block believes it takes a community that is willing to imagine possibility. Not problems. Not hard things. Not stones. But possibility of what could be. So, this is where I begin wandering into the season of Advent. I’m wondering about all of the hard things that we are carrying around — and daring to believe that there is possibility in these things. There is hope that is just beginning to ignite.

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