Bishop Karen's Weekly Message (2/4/23)

February 06, 2023
I am praying for the laity and clergy of the Mountain Sky Conference. Sunday is coming!

I love church buildings. I love their smell. I love the history they hold. I love what they communicate, not only of God, but of the community that has come for generations to sit in its pews. I love sitting in an empty sanctuary and let the prayers that have been uttered in that place over the years wash over me.

When I was pastor at Glide, we had lots of visitors. People came from around the world not only on Sunday mornings but throughout the week to learn about our ministries. Every facet, every program, every group meeting was open, so we would give them a tour and let them linger where they felt called: recovery circle, serving meals, and helping with our harm reduction program. We were happy to have people experience Glide.

But there was one thing that was closed to visitors during the week: the sanctuary. The reasoning was that you had to come to Sunday Celebration to understand what happens in that space—the way people come in their most vulnerable state to discover they are loved unconditionally as the Holy Spirit washes over them and they find themselves held in community. You couldn’t come to a Glide celebration and leave unchanged in some way All this was lost during the week when it stood empty. It was better to see how what was experienced on Sunday morning was put into practice during the week in the 84 programs that offered hope, healing, nurture, and so much more. Hundreds of people came through the doors of Glide each day, and were welcomed with the same unconditional love that was experienced on Sunday morning.

At one time, Glide had the tallest revolving cross in the city. At night it shown like a beacon. Today, light shines forth throughout the city not because of a neon light on the steeple but through the lives that have been transformed by Love’s power.
Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14). When we encounter God in the sanctuary, we are to shine this God light into the world. Our lives should reflect this love of God we have experienced in all we do and say. Just as we are changed through worship as we encounter God, so the world will be changed as we share God through our actions.

The Message puts it this way:

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous God in heaven.”

Tomorrow, may you feel bathed in the light of God’s Love. Then may you carry this light into the world so others may find their lives illuminated.

With love,
Bishop Karen