Despite the winter storm watch on Friday/Saturday, the parking lot this morning had been ploughed and was not too slippery, and most of our driveways must have been sufficiently passable, because almost as many people showed up for worship as usual.
I think our class concluded that a word that describes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would be “committed.” This might also describe people who show up to worship God in 6° weather, though it’s clearly a matter of degree.
The sermon encouraged us to think about what it means to be called by name (in light of 1 Samuel 3:1-10 and John 1:43-51), to remember the enthusiasm we felt as children, like in kindergarten, wanting to be called on, to remember what it was like to get a phone call (e.g., back in the days when there was one phone in the house, and they were mostly for grownups), to think about how we come to be more guarded about our names as we age, and what that might mean … but that we have a need, really, to be called, to be addressed – as the philosophers would say, to be recognized. We are not interchangeable. We need to know ourselves to be known that way. I imagine this is how people felt when they met Jesus in real life: recognized. How people feel still feel, when the church is living up to its calling. Recognized. Wanted. Not as “potential members” but as … our one of a kind selves.
The woman who was the first person at this church to speak to me the first day I visited 23 and a half years ago is moving away. Today was her last Sunday. I am here in part because she did speak to a total stranger that July Sunday long ago, and I am pretty sure she did that because she is, has always been, and was that morning committed … to that kind of fearless graciousness that is all about letting people know they belong. She is one of a kind. (She would probably say “We all are.”)