Scroll Stories: Elizabeth Romig
Scroll Story: Sunday, November 6
So, I have long been the only one among my friends who is Christian. Most of my friends describe themselves as somewhere between agnostic and atheist, with lots of use of labels like “secular humanist”. I have friends who are also raising kids, and often we read books and compare notes about how to teach morals without religion, etc. My friends frequently raise the question, “I work hard to be a good person. Why do I/why does the world need religion?”
I have always struggled with this question. I personally always felt I believed in Christ because I do, not because I needed to; I simply do. My faith journey has not at all been a simple or straightforward one. Mine was quite the crooked path, fraught with doubt and detours, and yet, solid faith is where I ended up.
I’ve spent years mulling over in my mind what answer would feel satisfactory to me. Why should people believe in the message of the Gospel? Is it really all about earning a spot in heaven? Because in my opinion, that seems like a pretty weak rationale. Almost … selfish… Unchristian, honestly. I’ve never felt like that and I’ve never used that as a justification. So I’ve mulled. I have gained much from my experiences with Christian community and over time, through a process of seeking, learning and listening, I have grown in my own faith. I’ve shared this with friends, but the sentiment is always received in the same way as it would be if I said I enjoy baking or I play intramural soccer – it’s just a personal passion.
Worshipping at The Hill, however, has brought new meaning to my faith. Now, not only do I believe in Christ, I find that I do need Christ. I have come to love the weekly worship, and it has spilled over into the rest of my life: reading scripture daily and praying with my husband at the start of the day. These practices bring peace and love into my life. As a video we watched at Sunday School recently put it, following Christ isn’t about earning a spot in heaven but about truly living here on earth. As our community comes together week after week to Love more, Better, these are the messages that help me truly live, here on earth:
You are loved
God created you – a beautiful sight to behold – and when He made you He smiled. You make God smile. With your weaknesses and mistakes, with the cracks and brokenness, you deserve love… and oh, how God loves you. And I love you, too.
We have all been through challenges and we have all made mistakes. These life experiences bruise us and sometimes break us. As we respond to the world, we learn to hide who we are and to protect our hearts. We can come to dislike how we look, the things we don’t have, the ways we see ourselves as less than. But just as God loves the beautiful and sufficient you He created, so you can, too. Love yourself as truly and deeply as God loves you.
Filled with love that comes from God, and the love we have for ourselves, God calls us to love one another. The deeper we grow in Christ, the more deeply we understand how far this call reaches and how shaking its implications.
These three loves grow cyclically. The more you feel loved by God, the more you love yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you love others. The more you love others, the more you see them as God does… and the more you understand how much God loves you.
Growing in love – growing in faith – is not something we can do in isolation. As we gather together in this community, we do our best to embody loving practice: welcoming the stranger, seeking and extending forgiveness, serving our neighbor, fostering friendship and reciprocity, and respecting those who are different than us.
And so, I love Sunday worship. I have enjoyed mass at other churches, but now I crave it as a balm to my soul. Each week I learn about a deeper love. I need to hear this good news each week, not only one time. I require repeated reminders and I love hearing them. It is not enough to just read a book (whether the Bible or something else – I have done plenty of both). The pressures of life, the struggles and pain of the world, tear at me – try to tear apart my progress – and then I return to The Hill on Sunday and am reminded. I’m able to return my focus. I reestablish my priorities. And I breathe deeply, remembering that, even though I have fallen short and lost my way during the week, it is okay because I am loved so profoundly by God. In my brokenness I am already redeemed–and I am not alone in the depth with which God loves me – this is community. The Spirit moves among us as we sing, pray, and share the Eucharist, uniting us, one to another.
This isn’t a church that expects me to have it all figured out. This church simply invites me to love and be loved, imperfectly, in fits and starts, but perhaps, by-and-by, a little more, a little better, every day.
We will continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.
The Beatitudes, Luke 6:20-31
Jesus looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”