Monday, March 21, 2011

One Sunday Morning

This was the last Sunday of our summer schedule, meaning services did not start until a relaxed 11:30 a.m. Even so there were many missing faces, some for health reasons, others for travel and sadly, a few who have let the fire of their faith flicker during recent months. But in their stead new smiles, tentative but gracious, and I tried to greet each one and extend a welcome with the hope that they would feel comfortable and return.

We arrived 45 minutes early and Eva had her heart set on inviting her school friend who lives across the street. I accompanied her and watched from the shade as she and Isabel eagerly called out the friend's name and tapped on the heavy metal gate. This is Iquique after all, so it was from a sound sleep that her friend awakened but soon she was dressed and hair brushed and the girls were so proud to walk into church with a new friend at their side.

It wasn't long before joy turned to tears as Isabel realized this friend would be in her sister's class rather than her own. As the music began I took her aside in a last-ditch attempt to stem the attitude accompanying the tears but with arms crossed she stood silent throughout the singing. As Daddy stood in front to lead the service, Owen wiggled about and asked repeatedly for potty breaks. Alec meanwhile tried to step on the foot of the microphone stand, while Ian attempted to reach the keys of the electric piano while it was being played. I tried to turn my attention to worship but my focus on singing seemed to be their signal to misbehave. Oh the joys of raising front-row pastor's children! :)

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when finally kids were released to their classes and my husband and I could sit quietly side by side and soak in the teaching of God's Word. A challenge to greater commitment, and as I listened I took notes in my journal of the many individuals whose spiritual needs weigh heavily on my heart. How do I share with them that there is One to carry those burdens? Just this weekend, a whispered confession of a marriage in crisis ... why it was shared with me I do not know, but that trust compels me to pray and search out ways to minister to another wounded woman.

After church and the sun was hot, the press of people around the juice cooler always a little crazy and the conversations flowing all around. I spoke with visitors and learned that one new woman in attendance once had her daughter in therapy at the Teleton just as we do. Small connections, yet each one gently breaks down walls leading towards more meaningful interactions someday.

Then there was a request for our daughters' friend to come over, and her mother was home alone, so we invited both of them to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant and over fried rice and egg rolls learned more of their story. The mother, a lawyer, is committed to defending the downtrodden. With several other professional women she seeks out grant opportunities to put programs in place in the neediest areas of our region. In her last outreach to women who were victims of domestic violence, she learned that of 200 women only five had completed their high school education. Their future is bleak and her grant is ended, and the help they provided was only physical in nature. Such a reminder that the true need goes far deeper, into the very soul of mankind, and praying we could share this truth with our new friend.

So went our Sunday morning, busy and full, yet pregnant with potential. Always we are surrounded by these connections, these contacts, and the burden is how to move past the introductions and niceties into the deepest needs of their hearts. Trusting in our Father who sees all and has the names of His children written on the palms of His hands ...

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