AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
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A 3-Minute Read
by Ren Turner
It’s pre-church Sunday morning at my house. I’m trying my darnedest to have a pleasant morning with my three older kids. Britt’s in bed, catching up on sleep after being up with the baby. I’ve got this, I think. Chocolate chip pancakes at the kitchen bar. Peaceful music in the background. Soon, I imagine, Britt will wake up, refreshed and so grateful for the extra sleep; she’ll shower me with praise and affection and have a hard time keeping her hands off me. I’ll remind her the children are watching and plus, we have to get ready for church.
That fantasy deteriorated quickly. The wheels came off somewhere during the transition from eating to getting dressed. Looking back, it’s a bit of a blur, but the culminating moment involved me repeatedly asking (Or was it yelling? Yes, yes it was yelling…) my 5-year-old to get dressed for church! He’s now upset. Still undressed. The good work of those chocolate chip pancakes is out the door. There are tears and balled fists and a face of rage. Then, he yells these words at me with all his might: “I guess you love Jesus more than me!”
In a seemingly small victory, I did resist the urge to yell back, “Yes, I do!”
Overall, however, I remained in a dysregulated sea of emotions ranging from tickled to irritated to completely unqualified to address the theological and parental tight rope that his question provoked.
Walking into church, my soul was in need of care. Perhaps yours was too? I felt a bit like the weather that day. I knew there was light to be had. But it felt covered by that gray dullness. So when Jordan announced his sermon never quite came together and that this would be a soul care Sunday, I immediately felt the timeliness of that.
We began, as you’ll recall, with a personalized breath prayer. We listened for God while David filled the background with a soul-stirring riff. What did you hear?
For me, it was this:
I am with you
I am with you now
I am with you now, my boy
Then came the Doxology. And wasn’t there something different in it that day? It was loud and bold and filled with yearning and presence, and it felt like that light I was craving burst forth and I was seeing, really seeing, with clarity and joy in a way I hadn’t experienced in some time. Thank you, Father, I thought. Bless this place.
We were then led deeper into contemplation. To notice God and our reality and bring those things into conversation. There’s no trick to this, we were told. Simply pay attention. Or as it was read from Isaiah 55, “Listen and come to me; listen, and you will live.”
I recently read (and highly suggest) Seeking God by Trevor Hudson. In it, he says, “Throughout your life, God has been present and loving you through those who have cared for you and looked after you. Picture these significant moments when you have felt loved, cherished and valued, and hold them in your memory for a while.”
When I look back on this Soul-Care Sunday, it’s clear to me that God was present and that he was loving me through all of you: this place, this community, this Parish. What a moment, what a memory. Thanks be to God.
- Father/son reconciliation went well later that afternoon.
- Have still not officially addressed his question.
- Your unsolicited advice is always welcome.