Making meaning

A postcard for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/16/22.
Pictured: The Rev. Dr. Sam Wells speaks at St. Stephen’s Birmingham on 10/15/22.

Someone asked me what I did this weekend, and I replied, “Jesus stuff.”

In addition to leading worship at the Church of the Messiah on Sunday, I got to do a lot of Jesus stuff on Saturday too. I want to share a couple of things from my Saturday Jesus Stuff.

I spent the first part of my Saturday in a “Fear+Less Dialogues” workshop, which offered reflections based on the work of Howard Thurman (an author, teacher, theologian, mystic, and civil rights leader). Here is a quote from Howard Thurman offered to us that has stuck with me:

Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge.

(You can watch a documentary about Howard Thurman here.)

Saturday night, I was at St. Stephen’s in Birmingham for a lecture given by the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells. In the aftermath of the shooting at St. Stephen’s this summer, Wells titled his lecture “The Hurt and the Damage: Letting Horror Turn into Wisdom.” He concluded his remarks by telling the story of how he lost his mother when he was a young man. From that experience, he took on a motto: “If it can’t be happy, make it beautiful.” He went on to say of the shooting:

It’s a scar that defaces this church and always will. But one day, maybe in a few years, maybe in a few decades, I hope at least in a few centuries, and I know for certain in God’s good and eternal time, that scar will have been woven, painted, grown or shaped into something beautiful. The damage will remain – but the hurt will have been joined with the hurt of other communities in a great wave of resistance and understanding and compassion. The hurt will not have completely gone away, but St Stephen’s will be known as a place of kindness, goodness and gentleness. The memories won’t have died, but those now in howling agony of grief will become ambassadors of peace, witnesses of a new society, flagbearers of truth. 

(You can watch Sam Wells’ lecture here.)

Both Thurman and Wells are inviting us to consider how we make meaning of the events of our lives—of the condition of human life. Both point to the transformative power of God as our starting point.

A sermon for the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, Heflin, Alabama, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/16/22:

Principal text: Luke 18:1-8

Audio only

Coming next

  • October 23 – Off
  • October 30 – St. Michael’s, Faunsdale — 21st Sunday after Pentecost
  • November 6 – St. Barnabas — All Saints
  • November 13 – Messiah, Heflin — 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
  • November 20 – St. Paul’s Greensboro — Christ the King

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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