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Musical messages remind delegates they are on a pilgrimage

UCC minister and musician Rob Leveridge, Christian songwriter and pastor of First United Church in Oak Park, Ill., shared musical messages during the PNC Annual Meeting in Wenatchee.

“We gather in worship and proclaim who we are as gathering people, God’s people, bearers of God’s truth who remember God’s pilgrimage,” he said during the Saturday morning worship.

Minister-musician Rob Leveridge sang messages at PNC Annual Meeting.

“We are here to ask God to help us be people who act, not here because we are on a committee or because mom wants us to be here,” he said.  “When we worship, we gather and remember who we are and why we are here.  We are members of Christ’s body.

“When we pass the peace, we remember we are looking at God’s child, partners seeking God’s grace,” he said.

Rob said that a loving relationship requires honesty.

“Without truthfulness, relationships die,” he said.  “Worship is a time for honesty with God, offering truth about our greed, fear and neglect, and truth about God’s grace as we offer up our sins.

“We are in this redemption business together.  Sin is true of you and true of me,” Rob said.

“The right words spoken at the right time are like apples of gold in settings of sliver,” he repeated.

Rob told the story of an introverted, small-town girl who decided to go away to college three states away from home.  When she went with her parents to register for classes, she said, “Sorry, I can’t go to school here.”  They encouraged her to stay in line.

In was a long line.  When she was sure she had too much, a loud, goofy college guy came out of the college bookstore singing praise.  A young man in front of the young woman gave her a lollipop, saying for the goofy guy to give the lollipop to the beautiful woman behind him.

The goofy guy said to the parents, “See, her first day away from home and she is taking candy from strangers.”

It was a playful moment.  Something clicked for the girl and she realized she could stay and find friends.  She could go out on a limb and be vulnerable, and live in instability and insecurity in the place where fruit grows.

“Two things help.  We need a starting point, a sturdy trunk, and we need strong roots and branches,” Rob said.  “The girl could contend with the scary place because of her parent’s unconditional love.”

Rob told of the African-American women’s a-capella group, Sweet Honey and the Rock.  One song they sang is “No Mirrors in my Grandmother’s House,” about growing up in a safe haven without the harsh devaluation of black women, with their essential beauty nurtured.  They never knew they were not accepted by the unfair standards of society and could draw on the strengths of their roots as they went vulnerable into dangerous places.

“In faith, we draw on strong roots to go out on a limb,” he said.  “In ministries out on a limb we find God.  If we go out on a limb, it helps to have an invitation by a colleague to come try it.  We go out because we believe we are supposed to go.  We go because God says to go.  We go out on a limb with the best fruit.

“The guy who told the story of the girl going to college and the goofy guy had no memory of giving a lollipop to a freshman boy to give to a freshman girl,” Rob said.  “Years later, the young woman looked him up and told him the difference he made in her life.  His stupid joke gave her courage to do more than she thought she could do.”

She invited him to her wedding marrying the boy in the registration line.

“We need to pay attention to people, to reach out and invite them forward into opportunities,” said Rob.


Copyright © June 2016 Pacific NW UCC News


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