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  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

Meet Sarah Williams a member of the Storied Church covenant team. I am so excited that Sarah is apart of the covenant team especially because of her passion for how the church betters the community that it exists.


“If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”


I heard that question years ago and it has stuck with me because of how well it prompts us to reflect on if our actions actually point to the fact that we are followers of Christ. And what should those actions be? I’ve been reminded of this with the recent hype about celebrities and politicians and if their faith is truly sincere or merely for celebrity/political fame and gain. While we can’t know their motives, the conversation around how they are or are not different now that they profess Christianity has had me reflecting on what my own story says about Jesus. How am I different and how is society at large perceiving what it means to be a Christian? Would there be enough evidence in my life to convict me?


A lot of times in our current popular culture, I think the evidence of being a Christian is, unfortunately, seen as more of what some Christians are against.


It seems what is often lifted up in the media and society is a story of Christianity as anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-women in leadership, anti-drinking, etc.

I am drawn to follow the ways of Jesus because of what he calls us to be for, evidence that would look like this:

  • caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you (James 1:27)

  • feeding the hungry, giving the thirsty something to drink, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick and those in prison, caring for the least of these (Matthew 25)

  • loving our neighbors (Mark 12:31)

  • doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly (Micah 6:8)

  • being people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)

I could keep going, but I hope you get the point. What if we as Christians put more energy into being what Jesus was for and living in such a way that our life was evidence of that.


For example, what if we fostered and adopted kids who need a home and cared for widows who don’t have kids nearby? What if we were known as people who met basic needs, welcomed the stranger, neighbored well with radical hospitality? What if we sought justice and practiced mercy, humility, and the fruits of the spirit?


I know I certainly don’t live up to all of that but what if the story of being a Christian was someone seeking to live that out? What if we were known for more than people who come together in a building on Sunday mornings?


What if, instead, daily, we were people who sought to love God, love others, better our community, and better our world. That’s the vision of Storied Church and it excites me because that’s the kind of evidence I’d like society to associate with being a Christian.

What is the evidence of Christ in your life? Would it be enough to convict you?

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Kiah Gaskin is an amazing mother to Isaac and Laurel, an incredible and graceful wife to Jason, a really gifted writer, and someone who cares deeply about health inequities, and is doing some incredible work and research that is impacting the lives of children who struggle with obesity issues all throughout the state of North Carolina.


I saw God in Chick-Fil-A.


I promise this isn’t the start of a bad country song.


I was eating with my family and noticed a woman sitting alone next to us.

She started to complement our children: “You have beautiful babies.” “Her hair looks like a princess.”


It was a sweet interaction- we smiled and thanked her. Jason took the kids into the play area, and I continued eating my sandwich.


“No honey, go back to the playground and keep playing,” she said. Not to mine- but to her own. A girl about 7 or 8 came to sit with her for a minute, then happily ran back to the slide.


Then the woman started small talk with the Chick-Fil-A staff person who was cleaning the floors. I couldn’t help noticing that the small talk had turned into something more- the woman was holding back tears.


“It’s her 5 year anniversary,” she said. “5 years today since my daughter died, on her birthday. She would have been 33 today.”



The little girl returned to her grandmother who was visibly distraught- “Grandma what’s wrong?”


“I’m just sad.”


“Why are you sad this time?”


“We’ve got to go get the flowers to put on your mother’s grave tonight. It’ll be OK. It’s good for us to do.”




The little girl smiled and ran back to the play area.


By herself again and still holding back tears, it was the perfect opportunity for me to say something to the woman. Offer a warm touch, a prayer- anything.


But I did nothing. I looked down, kept eating my French fries. I was distraught by the sadness of it all. Judgmental and diagnosing thoughts raced through my mind. Why is she letting her feelings show so much with her granddaughter? She’s just a little girl. She’s being exposed to way too much. Hasn’t she been through enough?

Adultification!


Finally, the little girl ran back to her grandmother and they got up to leave. The grandmother tickled her back, then grabbed her hand. They smiled at each other as they walked hand in hand out into the parking lot.


I’m still trying to process what I witnessed. My first reaction was guilt. Why didn’t I say anything to her? Why didn’t I offer to pray for her? People who don’t even believe in God have prayed for me- or at least offered words of comfort when I’m suffering. What kind of Christian am I? What kind of human being am I?


I’m starting to realize that maybe it wasn’t she who needed praying for. Maybe it was me.


Hope was happening before my eyes, and I missed it. This grandmother and granddaughter were learning how to be strong together and I was privileged to see a snapshot of their journey to resiliency- yet my own fear-rooted acuity got in the way of experiencing the Holy that was happening in their knowing glances, the grasp of their hands.


Praying for people is good. We Christians are called to pray. But prayer can’t be isolated from opening ourselves up to stories, seeing people in their fullness, and the transformation of our own hearts.

So I’m praying for that woman and her granddaughter, yes. But I’m also praying that God would continue challenging my own way of seeing people. Pray that instead of seeing loneliness, I would look for togetherness. Pray that instead of seeing scarcity, I would look for abundance. Because that’s what God sees. Hope is among us!

That little girl is going to be just fine. And so am I.

  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

This past Sunday evening my family was invited to attend a service called "Queerly Beloved." A service led by the LGBTQ+ community. It has been a while since I have sat in a worship service and felt the Spirit of God wash over me. I don't think I have ever been to a worship service where people were being their most authentic selves. It was so empowering.


The most moving moment was seeing my daughter Laurel receive Communion. The person serving the bread kneeled down to Laurel, with vibrancy and joy, said to her, "You are a child of God."


There are many in this generation of all ages that would love to do away with ritual and tradition especially Holy Communion. Yet I think our feelings are misplaced.


What this person serving Communion spoke and displayed to me and my family is the life and vitality that exist in this sacrament. It is always a powerful grace regardless of how we might receive it. We are children of God who matter and are deeply loved.


The Eucharist also is known as the Lord's supper, Holy communion is a long-held Christian ritualistic tradition. Some churches participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion on high holy days such as Christmas Eve. Others on the first Sunday of the month. And some receive Holy Communion every Sunday.


Some traditions take it less often because they believe that Holy Communion becomes less meaningful if it is taken more often. Other traditions partake in it more often but more so out of religious compulsion or duty.


Infants and children are often not allowed at the table until they are able to make a public profession of Jesus Christ. And for the same reason, those that are non-affirming Christ-followers are not welcome either. I recently went to a worship service where they invited people to the table by saying, "We invite you to come forward if you believe in Jesus." So all those who don't affirm this truth are not welcome. It does seem blunt to say that but nonetheless that is the truth.


We all come to the table with a plethora of images, experiences, and histories. And all of these images form how we experience the present.


We believe as a church that God has called us to set this table of Holy Communion as often as we gather together. We want this table to be a part of not just our worship experiences but also those simple moments of gathering around a shared meal together.


This table has and will form the type of community of faith we will be. The story we tell at the table is one of a disparate, ragtag group of people who shared a common thread together, Jesus. Jesus' call to them was to be the table for others who had no communion, to welcome the stranger, and to build strong, enduring friendships.


So at this table, all are welcome. And it is not because we said so.


But we feel strongly that God said so.


Infants, children, non-affirming Christ-followers, Christ-followers, seekers, those with questions, those who think they have the world figured out, agnostics, atheists... you get my gist.
Everyone.

Because we believe at this table and the tables we all feast carries the possibility of those we consider strangers becoming good friends.


At the end of the day here is what we want people to know about the Eucharist.

  • Communion is God saying to us, "I love you, I affirm you, And you matter."

  • Communion is God saying to us, "I will sustain you."

  • Communion is God inviting us into community and to participate in doing all the good we can.


Is communion more than just these three things? Absolutely. But it is never less.



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