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Faith Matters: Come as you (really) are

  • The Rev. Dr. Jill Rierdan and Rev. Marguerite Sheehan in the Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls, where a Blue Christmas worship service, “with flute and piano, prayers and deep silence,” will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The Rev. Dr. Jill Rierdan and Rev. Marguerite Sheehan in the Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls. November 16, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



By THE REV. MARGUERITE SHEEHAN and THE REV. DR. JILL RIERDAN
Friday, November 24, 2017

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 265.)

Face it: We are living in complex and troubling times. Maybe not more complex and troubling than other times but these are our times and we don’t know what to make of them: Times of anxiety and fear on the national and international scene. Neighbors with different political, religious and social views looking on each other with suspicion rather than with interest. Family members caught up in addictions or lost to each other in one way or another. Times when we hesitate to turn on the news because of what we might see and hear. What really matters? How can we find our way?

As one pastor and one priest serving two different Christian congregations in West County, both of us (Marguerite Sheehan of Trinity Church and Jill Rierdan of St. John’s Church) ask these questions every day: What really matters in these blue times? How can we imagine the light and love of God’s own beloved entering this weary world? Maybe the answer to those questions is yet another even more radical question. How can we not dare to imagine what Madeleine L’Engle called the “Impossible Possible” — a love that embraces our world exactly as it is? Broken, mixed up, full of contradictions and unsettled.

It is not just the big ol’ world that is unsettled in these times. We are, too. Are you one of those people who hear the holiday songs blaring and wonder if you will ever feel that kind of joy and hope? For some of us, this time of year brings memories of loved ones gone by and grief follows us everywhere we go. Maybe for you the “hopes and fears of all the years” is too much to bear. Or the world is too noisy and you are seeking quiet.

Lately, it seems like our culture is offering two messages about life: “The world is a fearful place so hunker down” and “Count your blessings and put on a happy face.” If your condition does not mirror either story or is tossed between those two messages, you might wonder if and where you fit in.

Consider this: The Impossible Possible is true. There is another, more powerful message. “The more the world is shattered, the closer Love comes rushing in.”

Whoever you are, wherever you are on your spiritual and life journey and whatever you are feeling in this time of the year, you matter and there is room for you.

Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

You are invited to come to one of those rare times and places where you can come as you are. You are invited, on Wednesday Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls to attend a contemplative and nurturing Blue Christmas worship service with flute and piano, prayers and deep silence. Come have your blues and your hopes recognized. Light a candle in the darkness and witness other people doing the same thing. Receive communion bread and wine for your soul and leave the evening strengthened and connected in community that actively cares.

The world is in a troubled condition. We need quiet moments and different messages where we can face and bless each other and find strength and peace for the days ahead.

On Blue Christmas evening, everyone, no matter your spiritual or religious practice, is invited to come as yourself. It matters that you know that there are places for you and yours in this and every season. Bring yourself. Bring a friend. Bring your life. Come as you really are.