“I don’t care” and “It doesn’t matter.” were like the salt and pepper shakers of conversation in my family growing up. Once, my Grandfather got called to task for a cigarette burn on my mother’s new living room chair. He threw a pillow over the mark and said “It don’t matter.” Too often I teased my little brother until he ran into his room. If I apologized from the other side of the locked door he’d usually yell “I don’t care!” Weary from work and housekeeping, my mother often responded with “Uh-huh” while I told her about my problems. Eventually I’d notice that she wasn’t listening and I’d storm off. If she called out to ask what was wrong, you can guess the reply: “It DOESN’T matter!”
It’s no surprise that when my family and I said “I don’t care.” and “It doesn’t matter.” like most people, we usually meant the opposite. My Grandfather was a widower way too soon. After my parent’s divorce my mother was forced to move into a too small house she didn’t choose with her father and two kids who didn’t want to go. Everyone was bruised, vulnerable in one way or another and wishing for something different. Most of the things we said didn’t matter filled us with longing for what did: space to breathe, someone to listen, another chance and a different way.
Every week at Grace Church Van Vorst around a hundred people come to publically confess their vulnerability, offer up their bruises and admit to what matters: forgiveness, compassion, listening, sharing, beauty and joy. Then we practice giving and receiving those things from each other. They’re in the hymns we sing, the bread we break, the open arms of the peace, the bravery of caring deeply that comes from prayers. These things bring us closer to each other and give us that Living Water Jesus talked about that quenches a thirst that nothing else will. If you spend enough time at Grace, it spills over into the other days of your week too and you find that you’re less afraid, less alone. It seems like every time we gather for Love’s sake and fling those red doors open to the neighborhood, or go out of them to bring Good News to Jersey City, heaven inches a little closer to earth.
This Sunday we’ll hold Grace Church Van Vorst’s annual meeting at noon. We’ll elect new leaders, thank the ones who are finishing their terms, look at our finances and reflect on some of the ministry that happened in 2016. However, a good half of the meeting will be set aside to talk about what matters most to you as we move forward as a church family in 2017. If you think it doesn’t matter if you come, remember: IT MATTERS! If you aren’t there we won’t hear everything that needs to be heard, so please come. Share your ideas, give thanks, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get down to the serious business of spreading more relentless love in downtown Jersey City the way only Grace Church Van Vorst can!
See you Sunday,