A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

Why I go to work everyday December 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 5:03 am

One of the questions that are asked incessantly of you when you are in candidacy to be a pastor in the ELCA, is what is your call to ministry. What is it that makes you want to proclaim God’s love? What is your understanding of God’s message of love and grace for all of creation? So I am about to do something that I swore up and down I would never do in a sermon. I am going to share with you why I am standing here. Why I am passionate to the point of obsessive about faith in the home, gathering as community, walking with one another unconditionally and serving all in need. Some of you know this and some of you don’t so here it goes-breaking every “rule” I have ever had in my head about this.
On Oct. 13, 2003 our third child Benjamin was born. We thought healthy like our other two but when he was two days old we discovered that he had a critical congenital heart defect. I had just opened the preschool at St. Matthew Lutheran church and so my plan to be back to work quickly immediately changed. As we journeyed with Ben through his first surgery and other ups and downs of his health, we were surrounded by not just the staff and our friends at St. Matthew but also by the families in the school. Besides continuous prayer, meals showed up on our doorstep, cards, offers of help with Kayla and Andrew, parents volunteering to teach while I was gone, staff members shuffling vacation days into my account as I was quickly running out, a senior pastor who said if I answered one work related question a day then it was a work day I could get pay for. Ben did not get better despite prayer and desperate pleas with God. Ben died during his third open heart surgery at the age of 15 months.
In the midst of deep grief, despair, hopelessness and helplessness a whole community stepped up in large and small ways. Over 300 people came to his service. I didn’t cook for three months. Andrew had a funky every other Monday Kindergarten schedule and the teacher called every Sunday night to remind me whether or not I should put him on the bus. I once got a card from a group of senior ladies saying that they were praying for me. Some of those ladies who were in their 70’s and 80’s embraced me and walked with me because infant and child death was common when they were young moms and they knew that “girls my age” didn’t know how to do this. What was really beautiful is that this group also partnered with my peers at church knowing, that they didn’t know how to walk with me, but they did. An instant connection between the generations was made. One woman, Erma Wheeler, who was mid 80’s would grab me in a big bear hug and kiss me on both cheeks and tell me she loved me every time she saw me. Sunday School teachers would call my kids, the church children’s choir that the kids were in, made a big card of love for them. On that first Mother’s Day my porch was filled with flower deliveries from friends. I could go on and on with how the people in that faith community were the light of God to us when we were in darkness. They kept holding the light when we couldn’t. They prayed when we had no words. They didn’t judge but just walked the painful road with us. They didn’t run. They did cry. They lamented with us, they questioned and voiced anger with us. But most importantly, they held out hope for us when we couldn’t see it.
We would not have come through that experience an intact family without those people of God, those light bearers, those faces of hope. As we began to heal, they allowed us to heal, change and grow. They held space for where we had been and where we were going.
As we did heal and move forward in our lives, we were able to offer this to others around us who were in darkness. We could walk with them in the darkness because we had been there and knew the way out. No situation is hopeless or helpless. If we pray together, if listen to the story of God in the Bible and how it intersects our story (for nothing is new), serve others and offer genuine and honest relationship with one another-light shines. I have had this light shine on my darkness and it didn’t make the pain go away or make me miss my son less, but in the light I was able to notice everyone who was walking with me. I saw that I wasn’t alone. I saw that God’s promises to be with us can take the form of a meal, a card, a hug. I also saw in this light that it wasn’t about me. I am connected to everyone around me and I am a part of them and they are a part of me and we need each other.
I have watched this same light transform other families as well. They still had cancer, they still had to get out of a violent relationship, they still were heartbroken over the end of their marriage, but they weren’t alone, through other people around them they knew that God won’t leave them and this gave them hope for tomorrow.
I want this light for everyone. I want the vision as offered in Isaiah 35 for all. I want kids to be so loved and connected that if they think for a second that the only action is to hurt someone and then kill themselves that they have someone safe and loving to share those scary thoughts with. I want families to know that they don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to buy into the culture of meaning and purpose through sports or academic ability or material wealth. Who they are as people, is who God created them to be and they are enough, loved and in community. I want us to be such an authentically cross generational community where on Sunday morning kids are running around, Sunday education is not age segregated, Wednesday night confirmation is for whole families to take a breather to be together during the week outside of the hustle of sports, dance, music and school activities, I want this because at 32 I needed 84 year old Erma Wheeler to embrace me and promise that I will survive. I want everyone to have an Erma Wheeler. I don’t want for there to be a tragedy for these things to happen. I want this to be so engrained that this is simply who we are as the people of God with one another and in the community. I want talk about God and the Bible to be as natural as breathing-not for answers but for questions and relationship. I want serving the community and others as our primary reason for existing. We are not gathered here for us-we are here to reflect the light of Christ to a dark world.
This is kingdom of God, this is the vision that Isaiah is lifting up to us in chapter 35. When God’s light shines; anything is possible. Water flows from the desert, crocuses bloom where they should not, God provides a highway for all that is safe and for everyone, and there is joy that cannot be quenched by darkness, love that cannot be extinguished, light that will perpetually shine. I know this with every part of my being and this is why I am here. I want this for you, for everyone and I think God wants this for Gods world. So this was my answer to my candidacy committee, this is honestly how I can get out of bed most mornings. Maybe I am naive, but I think this is possible. Why are you here?


4 Responses to “Why I go to work everyday”

  1. Rob Moss Says:

    Reblogged this on Neighborhood Church and commented:
    About the clearest vision for the purpose of the church I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. Pastor Brigette Weier’s passion for God’s mission is compelling — and contagious.

  2. […] A blog post by Pastor Brigette Weier. One of the most compelling statements about the purpose of the church I’ve ever had the privilege to read. Moving and contagious. https://alutheransayswhat.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/why-i-go-to-work-everyday/ […]

  3. Dave Coker Says:

    Bear hugs, kisses and words of love…very powerful, Brigette. Your witness is inspirational to me and I thank you for that. I’m headed out to do some hugging and comforting.

  4. amazingdes24 Says:

    Reblogged this on Striving To Be What, Again? and commented:
    This was written by one of the pastors at my church. I have never heard such a heartfelt and real sermon in my entire life. Nor have I ever seen anyone show the courage she did the day she stood up in front of us all and told us her story and her vision.

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