It is good for us to be here.

Sunday’s Gospel reading was the transfiguration story from Mark. Jesus is on the mountain top with Peter, James and John, and Elijah and Moses appear beside him. A voice from the clouds proclaims “this is my Son; listen to him.” The human and the divine are joined. Peter says to Jesus, “it is good for us to be here.”

At the front of Palmer’s nave is a stained glass window with a rendering of the transfiguration. At the top of this, the text also reads “it is good for us to be here.”

I look to that text every Sunday as I kneel at the rail for the Eucharist. It reminds me that I am welcome here.

The church has not always been a good place for me. I was crushed in ways that I didn’t expect by the church’s response to sin in my own life. I was blindsided by the fundamentalist rhetoric and absence of compassion. My faith suffered in ways that I cannot count, and I am still recovering sixteen years later. Sometimes my faith feels very, very small.

Last Sunday was also invite a friend Sunday. So rather than the usual sermon, our Rector gave a casual, welcoming ‘here’s who we are’ homily.

Who are we? Individuals beloved of God, made in his image to love as he loves. A people called to walk with God. A community that strives to embrace rather than to crush.

A church that embodies the primary message of Jesus – that of forgiveness and grace – that’s the kind of church that allows me to come back week after week, even when my faith feels smaller than a mustard seed, even when I reminded how much I fall short, again and again .

It’s the big Jesus we’re preaching here. Arms open wide, welcoming sinners (that’s all of us), healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and setting all of us prisoners free.

It is good for us to be here. It is good for me to be here. Thanks be to God.

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