This morning several of us CPT trainees headed to Trinity United Church of Christ for their 11 AM service. For those who may not know, this is the church that President Obama used to attend. It is "unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian." Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is the pastor.
The service was- wow! Let me give some play-by-play. We entered and a greeter welcomed us and walked us to a reception desk, where another woman asked us where we were all from (Kentucky, Michigan, Canada, and Brazil) and for one of our names, so that we could be properly greeted by the congregation. Then the greeter escorted us into the sanctuary and to an open pew. Singers were belting out pre-service praise music when we entered. The children's choir of about 50 kids processed in and they led us in song during the service. The service consisted of all of us reading a Scripture passage together (Mark 3: 1-7), an official welcome for visitors (which also included passing of the peace), prayers, offertory, and then... the sermon.
Let me just say Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III knows how to preach! The passage he preached about is about a man with a withered hand coming to Jesus for healing. Jesus heals the man by telling him to come forward and stretch out his hand. Without even touching the man, Jesus heals him. The first part of the sermon focused on the calling forward. He noted that none of us are perfect and how every single one of us has issues and no matter how hard we may try to hide them, other people know we have issues. The first step to our healing is getting over ourselves and acknowledging our imperfections to ourselves and others. We need to step forward. We must step out of our comfort zone, before we can try to become better versions of ourselves. Better to fail at trying that to sit in the safety of our comfort zone without doing anything.
The next step, Rev. Dr. Moss preached, is to strrreeeeeetch. We need to "stretch through our diminished capacity" towards God. In order to be "co-emancipators with God," we need to reach out to God. Sure, God can heal us, but the work of God will be easier if we are reaching for God as God reaches towards us. In our stretching, we not only help God in the healing process, but we also increase our spiritual range of motion. This means the next time we face a similar difficulty, we'll be better equipped for it, because we've gotten stronger through our strrreeeeeeetching.
Earlier in our CPT training, we talked about comfort zones and the discomfort or "challenge" zone. Rev. Dr. Moss' words seemed to reiterate the message we got in CPT - ideally we will spend a decent amount of time in the challenge zone, so that we grow and stretch. As we grow and stretch, so does our comfort zone.
It's fair to say I've already done some stretching during CPT training. I've learned some new skills, like how to make a prezi.com presentation (a task I was none too thrilled about when I began), how to plan a public action, and how to spiritually prepare for such an action. Several of us participated in civil disobedience during a public action focused on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. All were steps into my challenge zone. Doing these challenge zone activities remind me that, though I've done some stretching in my life, I have a long way to go before my comfort zone is all-encompassing.
So perhaps that shall be my life's goal - to stay spiritually limber, so that the comfort zone never stops growing. The challenge is to never be too proud to admit my own diminished capacity, to reach out to God, and to accept the healing that comes through the sometimes painful strrrreeeeeetching.
Thanks for the reminder, Dr. Rev. Moss III.