We Are About Relationships
What a day this past Sunday was! Wow. From start to finish, it was just amazing. I saw so much evidence of God’s goodness and love and power and creativity. Let me tell you what I mean.
My day started off with a trip to Riverbend prison. I knew it would be a special if bittersweet worship service because it was the last one that Jerry and Susan Nail would be able to attend. At least for a while. In case you haven’t heard the news, Jerry and Susan are moving to Kentucky. Jerry is the one who, over ten years ago, heard a calling from God to “go to prison.” Since then he has led this congregation in following Jesus’ call to visit the prisoners, and we are a stronger, more faithful congregation because of that ministry.
As I pulled into the parking lot at Riverbend, I saw at least ten of our church members heading into the building. There are several “free” church members who attend that service regularly, but they all came out in force on Sunday. They were coming to support Jerry but also to be a sign to our brothers “inside” that Christ UMC is not going anywhere! Even though the Nails will not be able to be present as much as before, the Riverbend Campus of Christ UMC will stay strong!
During the service itself, we invited the men to share thoughts, thanksgivings, prayers or stories about Jerry. It was a holy time. To hear the men expressing their gratitude, thanking God for how Jerry had genuinely cared about them, listened to them, treated them as human beings—was inspiring and powerful. It made me realize how much difference one faithful person can make.
Now let me tell you how my Sunday ended. Once again, I was in worship. This time it was our fourth annual Black History Celebration with the Wesley Foundation at TSU. We experienced the creativity and talent of the Wesley students as they honored several “living legends” who have made a difference in the African-American community here in Nashville. Among the honorees was a Tennessee legislator and teacher, an NBA basketball player, a Civil Rights activist and the first African-American woman to be ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church in Tennessee.
We celebrated people who had answered the call of God in their lives, served others humbly and faithfully without worrying about success or failure. Their only goal was to be faithful, to follow wherever God led them. The whole theme of the service centered around “letting your light shine,” as we recognized how God’s light had shined through these amazing people to change the world.
Sunday was a day spent celebrating faithful people—people who didn’t set out to make a name for themselves or even to make a big impact, but simply sought to follow Jesus Christ and be faithful to him. Each one of us is called to serve in some way. We too are called to love all people and to use what gifts and talents we have to serve our neighbors. May we not worry about how important our call is or how big of an impact we might make. The light that shines through us is God’s light, not ours. Let us just follow humbly and faithfully and leave the rest to God.