Galatians 6:2 (2-5)
Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.
I remember just like it was yesterday. The worship design team had planned a particular worship experience around the central theme of recognizing the presence of God in our daily living. We all agreed that asking some of our congregants to share their ‘cardboard testimony’ with their faith family would be a great witness to recognizing God’s presence in their own daily lives. I talked with folks who were struggling through lost employment or losing a loved one, those who’d known nothing but a picture-perfect life and those who were facing the uncertainties of broken relationships, broken bodies, and broken spirits.
Two conversations in particular were powerful for me: one with a young man who has carried the life-long burden of developmental delays like they were featherweight and, the other, with a young woman facing the third recurrence of breast cancer, wondering again how to fight the disease physically and stay strong for her husband and young daughter, staying open to God’s presence. Both jumped at the chance to bear witness without really understanding how that it would happen.
The designated Sunday arrived and when “Amen” was spoken at the close of the sermon, some 30 brothers and sisters made their way from their pews and formed a line. As the song of reflection was played, one at a time each one took their place in the center of the platform, holding their cardboard, first “telling” of what his or her life without knowing the presence of Christ was like. Then, turning that cardboard over to reveal what living in and with the presence of Christ meant to them. The young man whose life was rife with struggle to be like others told us that before Christ he “felt very alone,” but in the presence of Christ he “has a forever friend.”
Then, that young wife/mother meekly took her place and displayed the front side of her cardboard testimony: “Scared to death.” As she turned her piece of cardboard over to reveal the impact of Christ’s presence in her life … well, we could see it on her face and in her body before we read the words. As sick as she was, her backbone straightened a bit and that broad, beautiful smile of hers illuminated the whole sanctuary. Her witness read, “touched the hem of his robe!”
Every witness borne in that experience was appreciated and received as a gift, but the testimony of these two in particular did something to the Body gathered that day. The details weren’t nearly so important as this one truth: in that moment of worship we were ONE body. The raw truth and courage of a few to share their Truth called us to a congregational excellence that made a difference in that expression of the Body of Christ as a unified body.
God of us all, unify us by the presence and power of your Spirit and give us courage to link hands and hearts in bearing witness to Love Himself – within and beyond the walls of our churches and lives. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN.
The Rev. Sandra Clay
Asbury District Superintendent, Memphis Annual Conference