I am surprised by how connected we are. It is as though God knew all about Facebook long before Mark Zuckerberg invented it.
Last Thursday I worshiped at Women at the Well, the United Methodist Church inside the women’s prison at Mitchellville. (It was lovely by the way! Lots of joy. We danced.) Before worship, a woman who lives within the prison happened to visit with me. She told me about her life, and her family, and why she worships. Yesterday I ran into someone at church. She told me she knew someone who was in prison in Mitchellville. She had attended her wedding years and years ago, and it was clear the couple were very much in love. Sometime after that, newspaper headlines told of a horrible tragedy in their home and the woman was sent to prison. The woman at church wondered how she was doing. The woman she described was the woman I had met last Thursday. She is in prison, but she is doing well, worshipping God, loving her family as she can from within the prison, looking forward to the day when she can be with them again. The woman at church holds her in her heart. We are connected.
Yesterday I visited a couple from the church who are homebound. At some point in the conversation, the man told me that he was in the Navy in WW2, stationed in the Pacific on an LST vessel. My dad also served in the Navy in the Pacific on a similar ship. My dad died three years ago, but yesterday as the man shared his experience, I thought a lot about my dad. I could hear my dad’s stories in the conversation. We are connected.
A new couple came to church. They moved to Iowa from Michigan. I lived for a time in Michigan. We are connected.
At theservice we were creating an altar and we needed an altar cloth, so I went to the fabric store. I picked three different fabrics, but I couldn’t decide which would look the best. I am not good at that sort of thing. The woman at the fabric store liked the green one with circles, so that is the one I bought. And now when I see the altar, I think of her. Does she worship somewhere? Most people are not connected to a church and don’t worship, but when I see that cloth, I think of her. We are connected.
A man came to church yesterday asking for money.I preached about people coming to church asking for money. The man yesterday was the sixth person since I have been here. I don’t believe that our connection to one another is money. It is something deeper than that. And I don’t want to turn people into beggars. But still, if God is present, we are connected somehow. The man yesterday was from Iraq. He had been in a refugee camp in Syria. His life has been much different from mine. I did not give him money. His needs are beyond fixing with money. Did I give him hope? I tried. Did I offer friendship? I hope so. According to the United Nations, there are 65 million refugees in the world. Many were born in refugee camps and have no nation status. This all worries me. Jesus began his life as a refugee. And we who follow him are called to respond to the needs of the poor. I think the challenge in this is to discover how we are connected. It may be as simple as this: we are human beings living on the same planet. It may be looking at the man sitting on the bench outside my office yesterday and treating him with respect. It may be using my voice to advocate for those who have no voice.
We are all connected. Our roots go deep into the grace and mercy that is God. I am grateful for that.
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa
Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org.
We worship atand 11 every and we would love to worship with you.
For the last two weeks, we have been exploring Jesus’ commandments to love God, love our neighbor. This Sunday we will be looking at loving ourselves. Are comfortable with you? May seem like a silly question, but so many of us are so critical of ourselves.we will talk about it. Hope to see you there.