This past Sunday was my first attempt to start using my voice professionally after a bout of laryngitis. My voice was feeling strained after the second service, so I wandered away from coffee hour and back in the nave to reorder my sermon and rest my voice. As I was there, I noticed the volunteers at the healing altar tidying up their station. I have never visited the station in my almost four years of ministry here because I am usually administering or assisting with communion at the time they are working. But as my gaze settled on them, I realized there might be no better time to get some healing prayers.
In receiving the parishioner’s prayers for healing, I began to understand how much I have had to lean on others for help in this illness: from the deacon to help with pastoral care calls (because I literally couldn’t speak), to the two retired priests who helped lead services I could not have led alone, to the choir who sang a song so powerful it became a healing balm, to the countless parishioners who prayed for me and simply patiently waited for my strength to return, to my own family who kindly trudged through family life with a Magna Doodle board. As a person whose job is to care for a community of people, it is a strange feeling to not only not be able to do your job, but also to need the kind of care you usually offer to your own community.
I’ve been thinking this week how much we need, and yet rarely get, that kind of role reversal in our lives. We are all problem-solvers, hard workers, and generally responsible for ourselves in life. But sometimes, whether through injury, illness, or other obligations, we simply cannot fulfill our responsibilities or expectations, and are left at the mercy of others. I am convinced that these seasons of need are the only thing that is keeping us in check to thinking we have no need for community. Being at someone else’s mercy from time to time teaches us how interdependent we truly are – not only upon one another, but upon Christ.
Being a part of a community you can trust with that vulnerable need for mercy is at the heart of the Christian experience. Without leaning into the community from time to time, we cannot learn how to lean into Jesus – how to come to Christ for help when everything is overwhelming, difficult, or seemingly impossible. By learning to say, “I need your help,” to other human beings, we train ourselves to do the same with God – to honestly and authentically say to God, “I need your help.” If you do not have that kind of community in your life, please know that you are always welcome at Hickory Neck. And if you are a part of our community, and have not yet leaned into to others, know that our interdependence is mutual! You are needed here!