What Binds Us
by Mandy Mizelle
Christians aren’t kidding about the lyrics to “Go, Tell It on the Mountain.” We belt out those lines on Christmas Eve, and over the hills and everywhere we go. For an undetermined amount of time.
The Sunday after Christmas is notorious for low church attendance. And we Pilgrims found our evangelical, Great Commission side, after all — only the faithful remnant, God bless them with extra credit, remained at 3011 Academy Road on December 28th.
So I’ve been told. (I wasn’t here, either.) But I read Ginger’s meditation a few days later, and a piece of it has stayed with me. Opening the story of Anna and Simeon at the temple, leaning into this cusp time of year, she invited us to think about the paths we’ve recently walked and the turns we’ll take in coming days.
She wondered where our hearts will find meaning, what challenges we will face, and how we can believe anew — like Anna — that hope exists. She asked what religious traditions we have upheld, mentioning our rituals of Reconciliation and Re-entry, Moral Monday, Interfaith Hospitality Network, individual acts of kindness…
What religious traditions have we upheld? It’s a question that has echoed within me through the old-to-new-year passage.
In what seems a fragile season for many of us, a handle with great care season, I also wonder what religious traditions have upheld us — and will uphold us in the coming year?
The word “religion” is rooted in the Latin religare, meaning “to bind.” But “bind” has many connotations. Some troubling: ideas and images of being unwillingly restrained, of imposed restrictions. Others comforting and beautiful: the binding together that comes with rela-tionship, belonging, solidarity.
We all know that religion can fully embody both of these linguistic potentials. At Pilgrim, we try not to be the straitjacket kind (though we may consider a gayjacket) . We try to be bound with threads of love and grace, threads that do somehow hold us together, that affirm and support and sustain us, that can create more space and still hold fast.
Many threads have upheld me this year: our music ministry — from moving Sunday morning introits to Anne’s Auxiliary flute devotion; the quietly brilliant reflections shared in lectio divina; every passing element, every interaction with each of you, during Communion; extending and reaching for peace throughout the sanctuary; the tide of embraces and exchanges after worship; countless slight and ordinary gestures that string together so much meaning…
What about you? What threads have held you together? What threads might uphold you in the year to come? Whatever they are, go tell someone. Go tell each other. Come tell me.
May the One in whose spirit we are woven bind us with peace and joy these days…
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