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Zachary Peura
7 Months

Gather Us In
by Kristin P. Peura

Here in this place new light is streaming,
now is the darkness vanished away;
see in this space our fears and our dreamings
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in, the lost and forsaken,
gather us in, the blind and the lame;
call to us now, and we shall awaken,
we shall arise at the sound of our name.
1

Those of us who didn’t know the tune labored through the singing of this somewhat unfamiliar hymn last week. But the words, if we thought about them at all, jumped into our consciousness, for they spoke of this place of peace and openness where we gather each Sunday morning. And this week we listened to the commissioning of who we are as the body of Christ, fed by the spirit as we grow, literally bursting at our seams.

"Gather us in...in this space" we hear and wonder what it means in our lives. Just who are we that we should be gathered together into one? Who are these saints and sinners who enter the building purposefully designed as open, beaconing arms, who enter the sanctuary with its message of welcoming peace on the lintel and who become entrenched in our hearts as we begin to trust each other enough to share our stories?

Why, they are we. And we are they, of course!

We are the young, our lives are a mystery,
we are the old who yearn for your face;
we have been sung through-out all of history,
called to be light to the whole human race.
1

We are the communion of saints in Jesus Christ gathered often by forces and motives we do not understand but know exist. Yet sometimes we are gathered by a love we neither feel nor can comprehend until we give it away unrestricted to our neighbor, our friend, our child or spouse or even to a total stranger whose story touches our heart. We are the communion of saints in this place, gathered together to celebrate a life we do not own but with which we are graciously gifted.

We are the toddler mashing Cheerios under the pew, bribed by a mother who wishes to sustain quiet for as long as a whole minute. We are the golfer who would rather be out on the back nine and whose mind wanders to that missed putt on the 18th green yesterday. We are the couple who openly and tenderly clasps hands even after forty-odd years of marriage. We are the husband who lovingly shepherds his wife who is in early stages of Alzheimers, for he has promises to keep though she is forgetful of them. We are the newly singled father who barely keeps body and soul together arriving disheveled on a Sunday, tired with the effort of being all and doing all for those who depend solely on him now. We are the teenager whose awakening body is uncomfortable just living inside his skin. We are the hurting, the sick, the meek, the frightened, the unsung heroes and the answers to each other’s prayers.

We are the people of God gathered in this place of Peace, joining our voices in prayer and in song. We are the weepers and those don’t cry outwardly but hold our emotions so close to our beings that we ache with the effort of hiding ourselves from the view of our friends.

We are the bold who make plans and counsel.
We are the meek who retreat from ourselves.
We are the rich who have lots of money.
We are the poor seeking riches in love.

We are the sick who hope for our healing.
We are the old ones who give up too soon.
We are the love that holds us together.
We hold the hope of a future that’s hewn.

We are tired, the anxious, the hungry;
Hungry for love and obsessed with our lives.
We are the ones who point at each other,
then see our fingers point back toward ourselves.

We are the leaders, the children, the learning.
We are the teachers of those whom we meet.
We are the children who know of the father.
We are the same ones who rest at his feet.

We are the sinners, the ones who know better.
We are the children under God’s wing.
We are not perfect, we are not able,
Raising our fears to the throne of the king.

Gather us in and whisper our names.
Call us together to speak well of yours.
Give us the hearts to love one another.
Watch us together as we grow in you.

Gather us in and hold us forever,
gather us in and make us your own;
gather us in, all peoples together,
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.
1

Join us....we welcome you. Kneel at the table....and receive the blessing. Love us... and be surrounded with the compassionate love of Jesus Christ that whispers throughout this place.

1Marty Haugen, Here in This Place, 1982 GIA Publications, Inc.