It seems that fall has arrived here finally with the gift of cool breezes and crisp, blue skies. I’m told that there will still be a few hot days to come in October, but I feel the days of crushing humidity have left us for now, maybe, on the wings of those birds that are already migrating south. Or is this wishful thinking?
I’ve been wishing for much these days, in particular, for the time when we will be together in the flesh-and-blood with our church for worship.
It’s not only the inexplicable peace, and comfort, that I feel when gathered with the body of Christ around Word and sacrament, but it is also the quickening of fire, in my mind, in my belly. I feel that pull towards deeper life and love, a shimmering of the possible kingdom-come in our very midst. In the most ordinary moments I witness those glimpses of utter grace, of life abundant, moments full of tiny epiphanies and revelations, a different view.
I’m reminded of a sermon I often heard during the summers of 2002 and 2003. At the time I was a backpacking guide for a ministry for high school students called Wilderness Ranch. It was my seminary internship for one summer and an excuse to be in Colorado again for another one. I needed to get out of New Jersey for a few months. For seven days, two guides would take a group of high school students from all over through the San Juan Mountains. We would summit at least a 13,000 foot mountain, set up a rock climb somewhere, and just hike, eat, and sleep. At the end of the week back at base camp, the director, Skeet, would always do the same talk using the scripture from the Transfiguration.
I think of this often whenever I look out at any mountains whether in North Carolina or Pennsylvania. How some things begin to make a little more sense way up high. How you feel braver and truer when you are surrounded by trees and your Creator. How the air is clearer and you can breathe better. For me, the topography of a space has to include peaks and valleys, bright sunlight and a large sky, and a nibble of winter to come back to myself.
But, good preaching and the sound of singing Come Thou Fount and the Canticle of Turning helps, too. And, of course, breaking bread together and the quiet of communal prayer. The epiphanies then come like breaking waves and rolling clouds, and like Peter, I am eager to pitch numerous tents to hold onto those revelations.
Reality begins to blur a little, and I see signs in the poetry being read on stage, paintings, a still lake, and even my dreams, what God stirs in me, become undeniable.
We’re several months away from Epiphany, from that Sunday when we read in the Matthew 2 passage, where seasons and journey and dreams shimmer on the surface of the pages. But it isn't the star or the roads, or even the angels in Matthew 2 that compel me – it’s the dreams of the Magi and Joseph that lead them to move and live and be. And I latch on to the word “dream.”
Dream because dreams though they are strange and peripheral to our lives, they are often the instrument of revolution. Dream because my Korean ancestors don't take dreams lightly – they believe that dreams can tell you everything from the biological sex of the baby in your belly to when someone is nearing their death. Dream because our desires and hopes for our lives are usually barely articulated but cannot be bottled up and will find their way to the surface of our consciousness. Dream because they lead us to risk and change, and to grasp the possibility of a different reality. Dream because they are for the fools and desperados and the hopemongers.
Dream because I need to keep seeing in ways beyond what is rational or reasonable.
Skeet would often say something similar. Something about not staying on the mountain top because we aren't made to live at the elevation. That even though we are able to see more clearly and feel more deeply, we are meant to have those moments in glimpses and glimmerings. We are made to live in the valleys. Jesus led his disciples back down, too.
But, I'm reminded over and over – it's the long run down and back with college students, it's the now traditional catch-up over coffee with a friend, it's being squeezed into a pew with 10 others during worship – we don't go it alone, we have the people around us, we have our tribes and communities, and we always, always have those signs, we carry those dreams, to lead us.
I know many of you feel something similar, a yearning to be together in the sanctuary, to hear the music, to see the smiles and hugs of those near and dear to our hearts, to be fed and nourished for the week that looms ahead. It’s a time to remember that our life together is not just a dream, but a way to remember who we are, and whose we are, as it is proclaimed at the table when we recount Jesus’s words, "Take, eat, do this remembering me.” Remember. We remember, but God remembers us.
God re-members, knits us together, binds us to one another over and over, not only our hearts and minds, and dreams, but in our being in the flesh with one another.
There are so many ways that a church community can show up for one another, and give each other a glimpse of something bigger and brighter. The body of Christ, God’s Spirit, and our worship of God – these are not limited to time and space. May we find courageous and creative ways to love and care for one another, and may we be the muses for each other’s dreams.
Mihee Kim-Kort is a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister, speaker, writer, and slinger of hopeful stories about faith and church. Her writing and commentary can be found at TIME, BBC World Service, USA Today, Huffington Post, Christian Century, On Being, Sojourners, and Faith & Leadership. She is a PhD student in Religious Studies at Indiana University where she and her Presbyterian minister-spouse live with their three kids in Hoosier country.
Twitter | @miheekimkort
Instagram | @mkimkort
Website | mkimkort.com
Church Anew is dedicated to igniting faithful imagination and sustaining inspired innovation by offering transformative learning opportunities for church leaders and faithful people.
As an ecumenical and inclusive ministry of St. Andrew Lutheran Church, the content of each Church Anew blog represents the voice of the individual writer and does not necessarily reflect the position of Church Anew or St. Andrew Lutheran Church or Day1 on any specific topic.