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Monday, March 16, 2009

Gracious

We had an amazing worship service yesterday. The music, the theme, the entire spirit of our morning was special. One of the highlights of the day was dedicating one of the cutest babies to ever grace our community.
Her mom has been an active member of our community for several years. She is a single woman and comes from Rwanda and has struggled to obtain permission to stay in Sweden. She has survived many years without the proper paperwork. Returning to Rwanda was impossible for many complicated reasons. She works hard. She has the most positive spirit. She is lovely, humble, funny, and warm. She is grace personified. She sings on our music team so last year, when she discovered that she was pregnant, she asked to meet with Doug and discuss her situation. She felt that under the circumstances she should remove herself from the public ministry of music that she was involved in. She didn't want to create a hassle for anyone who might object to her continuing to lead worship while pregnant as a single woman. She acknowledged that her getting pregnant was less than what God would have in mind for her and she felt she needed a hiatus from participating in the music team while the pregnancy and birth unfolded. It was a humble, thoughtful and grace-filled move.
Interestingly enough, the church embraced her during her pregnancy. She remained active in our community and soon enough, it became obvious that she was going to give birth to a child. The baby was born in September and true to form, she named her Gracious. Can you imagine the kind of spirit this woman embodies when as a single refugee living between countries, finds herself pregnant and then names her child Gracious? Do you think she has some special insight as to what the grace of God fully means?
It was thrilling to watch our community rally around her. The first time she came to church with the new baby, she was mobbed by well-wishers and people just wanting to pour love into their lives. The fact that this child is stunningly gorgeous is a bonus!
The father is involved in their lives, but not involved in our church. He was present for the dedication however and we are hopeful that the love and grace that have been poured out upon his girlfriend and child will perhaps give him a taste of how good the Kingdom of God is. As we stood before our congregation yesterday, with the two unmarried parents and this lovely little child, I felt that the gift of God's grace was never more evident. Is it a perfect family? No. Are there limits to having parents who are unmarried and living without papers in a foreign country? Of course. But would rejecting this family help their situation in any way? Would scolding them or harshly judging them draw them closer to God's gentle spirit? I think not. Our church's ability to embrace and surround this family with love and support is an important thing. It elevates compassion over condemnation. It lifts up joy over judgment. It pours grace into lives that have enough hardship to last them a life time. It makes me feel that in this time and place, we are truly acting as the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus. Through the baby Gracious, we are all moved to embrace a bit more grace for us all. Oh, and very soon, the mother will rejoin us on the music team and we will all be blessed by that as well.