Monday, January 20, 2014

Take a stand

Every once in a while I attend a service at Grace Church in Middleburg Heights. Although I am a practicing catholic I enjoy the experience of worshipping at another church. This Sunday I attended a bible study at 10:30 and met my boyfriend for noon mass. Their masses have a message series and Sundays was the last in the Financial Fitness Series. The information Pastor Jonathan Schaeffer shared was very valuable and of  course based in scripture. But my story is not about the content of his message. During his message there was a person that would randomly laugh or make weird noises. He kept forging ahead, ignoring the distraction.  I tried to look around but could not detect where it was coming from. I didn't want to be too conspicuous by rubber necking. There is a parishioner at Holy Angels that has turrets or some similar affliction that causes him to randomly shout out so I just assumed this was the same here. Until...Pastor Jonathan stopped, and asked the person if they would kindly watch the rest of the program from the lobby. He asked security to escort this person out and apologized that this person was not very happy with him and was deliberately disrupting the service. The mood became very tense and uncomfortable for a few minutes until this person was removed. I don't think I have ever seen a church service halted, but this person was obviously troubled. Once removed Pastor Jonathan finished his teaching, although the room was quite somber. In Grace fashion they ended the service with an upbeat Christian song but before we were dismissed Pastor Jonathan asked if he could explain a bit more about what happened. He didn't want the audience to think his actions were rude or insensitive. Apparently the outbursts began last week and while not removed this person they did  identify who she was. This person, he went on to share,  has caused much trouble in the church and brought heartache to many of the parishioners and he felt as its leader he had to take a stand and not allow this disruption. He likened it to the devil, how he likes to creep into our lives distracting us while we try to ignore him. At some point you have to take a stand and cast this evil out. I don't know the details of this story and am very torn by the turn of events. Yes it was disruptive to have this woman deliberately acting out but at the same time it was upsetting to watch her get thrown out. I guess I was not sure if the added background to the story made me feel better or worse.  I know that the pastors intent was to protect his congregation. At the end of the day I guess we all have to make those difficult choices, to stand for what we believe in and protect what is ours.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Get Jesus on board

     A dear friend shared with me that her brother committed suicide on Monday. My heart sunk. I know how it feels to lose a sibling due to God's hand, I couldn't even imagine the pain of losing one at their own. Of course one's first thoughts are, "I had no idea they were suffering", "If only". I begged my friend not to go there. We can never truly know the depths of an others struggle. I went to mass today with the intent of offering up the mass for her family. The gospel was right on God's timing. It was Mark 6 45 when Jesus walked on water. After Jesus fed the 5000 he told his disciples to get back in the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida while he said his goodbyes and sent the crowd home. He went by himself to the hills to pray. Later in the evening he saw the boat with his disciples struggling against the waves. He headed across the water intending to pass by them but when they saw him walking on water they became hysterical thinking he was a ghost and cried out in terror. Jesus spoke to them and said "Don't be afraid. Take courage! I am here!" The moment he stepped in the boat the winds calmed and peace came over the lake. Fr Adam invited us to ask Jesus into our boat. Cry out for help from the Lord and invite him into your storm. Having faith doesn't prevent storms, it calms them. I know my friend is a woman of faith and my hope is that she ask Jesus into the boat, into their struggle, to bring the peace only the Lord can bring.