Yesterday we worshiped with our Irvington Covenant church family. On the way there in the van, I told Mercy that we were going to the place where I first met her Daddy. Not certain that she was appreciating the importance of what I was telling her, I explained that it was like when Cinderella walked into the ball and saw the prince for the first time (it was actually nothing like that, but it definitely got her attention). It was great to be with our family there: Mercy attended a Sunday School class for the first time, and Aaron and I spent the post-singing part of worship in the toddler nursery with a bunch of our friends and their little ones. It was fun to go back to the community of formerly single or pretty newly married friends and see the mess of kids we have between all of us now. We did the typical go out for lunch after church thing, and this time there were as many kids menus as there were adult ones. It was very, very fun.
The church has had its share of transitions and changes since we left. Two of the three Greenidge brothers are no longer serving in leadership positions there, and of course we always feel the empty space left after Grace’s passing. But it is great to see the new faces and gifts that are there now, and to celebrate their continued commitment to life together across the lines of race and class.
At the beginning of this trip I read the book, Grace Matters, by Chris Rice. It is the story of two men, one black and one white, committed to the journey of racial reconciliation. It is a painful read at times, and he spares no ink on describing the ways that love for self can prevent us from really seeing our dividing walls knocked down. As I sat at Irvington, I realized that this group of people have persevered in their calling to one another through frustrations, hardship, and so many opportunities to simply leave and find an easier place to serve and receive. Their story is much like the journey described in Grace Matters played out on a corporate scale. It is not surprising that when you enter Irvington’s doors you are welcomed to “the grace place”. I think that is much of the power of God’s calling for us to be reconciled across the lines that naturally divide us in every other sphere of our lives: to learn how radical grace really is.
It is New Year’s Eve, and tomorrow is the day when so many people make commitments to some new thing they want to see happen in their life. Irvington reminds me to think about resolving to keep doing the old things; to persevere in the commitments I already have. It is so much easier to embrace something exciting and new: it is much harder to give your best and your all to the labors of the every day.