This Sunday we will worship with the theme of “Reclaiming the Journey that God Intends for You.” While journey is a common theme for us at All Pilgrims, we are posturing this particular Sunday, with the help and inspiration of Victor De Los Santos, to welcome those who are in one form of recovery, or another. Victor is completing an internship project with us for his alcohol and drug counseling credentials, and part of his project is to bring about this worship experience at All Pilgrims. He has developed a survey, available here, to allow people to share from their experience. Victor has made personal, as well as marketing invitations, for this Sunday, and he has invited speakers who will share their stories of spiritual journey in worship. Thank you, Victor, for this work and the opportunity to represent and share God’s gracious welcome and embrace!
Victor’s inspiration includes his experience in recovery support groups where he has found it sadly common to hear of so many painful church experiences from people, especially from folks who are LGBTQ. Hearing stories of harm and exclusion that, for some, translate to thinking God doesn’t love them and/or people of church wouldn’t accept or welcome them, moves Victor to reach through those experiences to speak a Gospel infused word of love and grace that humbly offers an invitation to a different experience in community.
Over the past month, we’ve included in worship the metaphor of a tree of life, recognizing that we are a people on the move, journeying together as we practice our faith. Among other things, the presence of this tree in our worship space reminds us that our journey is with destination. It represents the relational destination where we find sanctuary and abundance. It is where we enjoy healing and joy. And, it is where peace is experienced with justice as we gather in community that shares God’s compassion for all, loving one another to the fullness of life as God intends. It is what God dreams of for all creation. The Kin-dom of God, though, is not yet fully actualized.
It doesn’t take long to peer out into the world, or to even reflect for a moment on our own experience, to know this. As we’ve shared in our recent theme of worship, we can find ourselves in places, or even as people, that have us waking and asking “How in the world did I get here…become this…?” Whether this is a deeply personal moment of recognition, or whether it by opening our hearts to the harm we do to one another amidst the human family, it doesn’t take much work to see we’ve not arrived. So, we keep moving, and in doing so, moving on the Way with Jesus, we get a glimpse, we experience that which is not fully actualized, we find it manifested in community on spiritual journey as we long for and move to where God calls us.
All Pilgrims is such a great place for Victor’s work and invitation because you are a people who get it. We have no illusions to lead us to think that it is our “tree of life,” or that we have arrived, or that any deserve to claim that place (or church) as a place for self-righteous judgement. We bring our own stuff, our own flaws and pains and hopes and needs, as we join and respond together, knowing “God loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it!” Together, we seek, walk, support and carry and, at times, find ourselves the ones to be supported and carried as we go. This Sunday, while Victor has blessed us so with a special invitation, made for clear and good reason, we are reminded that, whatever the particulars, we are a people of gracious and glorious welcome to God’s journey because we are in need of the same. As we journey on our walk together, we find from the sharing of our stories how much we have in common, and how grand it is to be loved forward by the grace of God.