The snow has been falling all weekend. By this Sunday night, it is frozen and slicked over, creating a treacherous sheet of ice over everything. It’s the kind of night on which you really want to stay inside. Regardless, a small contingent of people have left their dorms and havens of warmth and trekked down to Town Hall, a pilgrimage of sorts.
A pilgrimage of those in need of grace.
I arrive earlier than usual, and sit in my normal corner seat out of sight and alone. I frequently become nervous in that room; it causes both my claustrophobia and mild agoraphobia to rise like monsters of my own making. The distance afforded by the corner seat and the window opening on the lake beside it give me enough security to be able to overcome my irrational fears.
I rarely feel excluded. The sense of community in that room almost overwhelms me at times. There is warmth, and love, even on this cold night when it seemed like the ice would seep into my bones.
I am in need of grace.
Tonight, our worship leaders consist of a guitar and percussive instrument, the name of which I do not know. I pull my coat closer about me, hoping by strength of singing to drown out the guilt that has plagued me for a week. And I watch my fellow worshippers.
We are a small bunch, we who come here in need of grace.
Some of us don’t know about this need. Some of us think we come to extend grace, or because it is the godly thing to do, or because we have friends that we want to impress.
Some of are aware of this need. We need grace to rest, we need grace for forgiveness, we need grace to cover us from the grief and pain of the week past. We need grace to get us through the week to come.
Mostly, we just need grace.
I watch the people walk down the sidewalk outside the window–my window, as I think of it. It is strange to see others sitting there. They come in ones and twos, a trickle that doesn’t really fill the room but appears to. The strength of the praise and the desperation makes up for the lack of numbers. They walk carefully, the ice beneath their feet threatening to keep them away, but they persevere.
I am in need of grace.
I came here, in my ridiculously large coat, muffled and hooded, to sit and worship with these people. The darkness of the room and the coats and hoods give a feeling of anonymity and strangeness to these normally-familiar faces. Do I really know them? Do I know the trials and troubles that they face? Why did the consider this so important that they would risk hurt to come here tonight?
Why did I come here tonight?
Worship is over. I leave the room and head back to my dorm, still pondering this question.Why do I go to Sunday night worship?
I think too often it is for reasons of self. I want to impress others, to do the right thing, to be perceived as godly.
But tonight, I came because I was in need of grace. I asked for it sincerely.
And it was given to me in abundance, beyond what I asked or even wanted.
We are a strange bunch, we who are in need of grace.
We are called humanity.
And Christ died to give us grace.
Can we not admit our need?