And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!
What troubles have we seen, what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without and fears within, since we assembled last.
Yet out of all the Lord hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford, and hides our life above.
This hasn’t been an easy academic semester. It’s easier than it was last fall, but I attribute that to my intermittent senioritis preventing me from wigging out at academic stress all the time.
It also hasn’t been an easy personal semester, and I seem to be going through a lot of changes both internally and socially. I haven’t been very easy on myself.
Last Saturday night, I spent a sleepless night before deciding at 5:15 (AM) that I needed to go to church. This shouldn’t be such a big deal except that I have been *pretending* all semester that I’ve been church-hopping. I have a three-page list of Atlanta churches I want to visit, ranging from multi-cultural Pentecostal to every variety of Orthodox. My reason for this is that it’s my last chance in my life to explore different churches. Once I’m appointed, say bye-bye to church visiting—- and say bye-bye to a cool city in which I have lots of diverse options.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found anyone who wants to go church-hopping with me, and my motivation for doing ANYTHING decreases exponentially when I am by myself (this makes the prospect of moving somewhere by myself next year a bit more horrifying… but that’s another post for another day…).
So every week I have more & more homework.
I get more & more stressed out.
My bed feels more & more comfortable…
“You’ve had an exhausting week,” I tell myself. “This is self-care.”
So I make myself coffee and head to a Starbucks and read John Wesley’s exhortations to “attend upon all the ordinances of God.”
That’s been the story of almost every week this semester.
But last Sunday, I was in too much emotional turmoil to claim that my bed was comfortable. I had homework but was too distracted to do it. And coffee-as-stress-relief did not seem to be the best self-care plan.
Church was the solution… or so I thought… at least until I was struck with a terrifying thought: I have nowhere to go.
I had a wonderful church last year, but it was an hour away. I had not bothered to develop a relationship with any congregation within the city limits. Flitting from one service to the next, I had neglected Christian community. And although I sometimes claim that the seminary community is my Christian community, I have equally neglected that community. I began praying that I would find God somewhere in the midst of my pain.
My roommate came in my room and asked if I wanted to go to church with her. I did.
I cried intermittently throughout the service, starting with the “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” hymn and then when we passed the peace. The sermon was basically a recap of my Wesley midterm (no tears there!), but at the conclusion of the service, we shared the statement of faith from the United Church of Canada (UMH 883), which begins:
“We are not alone, we live in God’s world…”
I had “And Are We Yet Alive?” echoing through my mind as we spoke those words: “fightings without and fears within since we assembled last.” Yes, Lord. And are we yet alive?
So on this Saturday night, I don’t know how much sleep I will get, or what my emotional state will be when I wake up in the morning. I *do* know that I’ll be at church again tomorrow. Out of all the Lord has brought us by his love. How can I not respond?