Funny, how things do come together, and strangely “fit,” and become one more beckoning voice, one more stirring of the Spirit to rise up and do what you’re called to do.
After attending our church’s Chorale offering on Saturday afternoon “Music in the parking lot,” Molly and I both said on the way home: “I do so miss church,” meaning the fellowship, the moving of the Spirit, the people, together touched by God.
“Why don’t we just go on our own to Gardner’s Zion Baptist Church on the northside tomorrow,” I offered, “and be there with God’s people, and hear the hymns, and receive the Word, and ‘Do Church’ after all these weeks of Sunday TV fare?” She was more than ready. “Let our daughters know,” she said. I did, and on Sunday we went.
It was that beautiful blue sky Sunday morning, the last day in August, that whispered soft of the autumn coming. We rose early, dressed up, “masked up,” and headed down Hwy 55, through Wirth Park, to Zion Baptist Church on the other side.
The welcome was warm, as the Black church knows how to give it. Calling us by name. Remembering reconciliation work we’d done together years ago. We touched elbows, smiled above our masks, found a pew a few rows back, and soon found we could “swing and sway” with the music, stand, raise arms, clap when it came time, and let out our own “Praise the Lord” and “Amen,” and welcome the Spirit that was flowing there as that Sunday congregation gradually filled the church.
Pastor Herron made sure we all were welcome, and soon was holding his Bible up and saying, “We are soldiers of the Lord, sent to do battle in this time, and this (the Bible) is our weapon!”
He drew us all in, and then introduced the preacher of the day (not himself) who picked up the theme of who we are in this time. And soon, he was distinguishing CHRONOS (continuing time), from KAIROS (this time, God’s time, God’s moment).
And he was turning to the Book of Esther, the young Jewish girl who had been chosen to be the Queen of King Ahasuerus who ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. And read from that great story of Haman’s plot to trick the king into ordering the death of all the Jews in the realm, and the plea of Esther’s cousin Mordechai for the queen to save her people by going to the king to plead for their lives, and her own.
Esther had protested to Mordechai that “only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live – and the King has not called me in 30 days.”
But Mordechai’s answer to the Queen was “Do not think that in the King’s palace you will escape any more than any other Jews. FOR IF YOU KEEP SILENCE AT SUCH A TIME AS THIS, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter but you and your father’s family will perish. AND WHO KNOWS whether you have not come to the Kingdom, for just such a time as this?”
And so, the preacher laid it out for me. In this historic moment, in this time of turmoil for Minneapolis, and for America “who knows but what this is our time, the Church’s time, God’s time – through His Church – for us to be soldier’s of the Lord, using ‘the weapon’ of the Word, to speak Truth, and Love, and Hope to America to bring about the change that God wants, for our city and nation to be redeemed? And like Esther, if we perish doing it, we perish!
Our moment. Our time. Stirring. Calling. We were meant to be there on that day, to hear that word, and be summoned.
We were thrilled. Lifted up. Inspired. And so, we shall see, we will return with Molly’s “Christian Visitors.” And – who knows? Who knows?
Want to come? And see what God will do?
Bless your good hearts.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES