After worship a few weekends ago, a woman approached me and apologized. She said to me, “I’m so sorry . . . Every time I come to church I cry, and I’m so embarrassed by the tears that I rarely come anymore.” I’m not exactly sure what I said in the moment; folks were pressed around us and it always feels rushed at the close of worship. But what I think I said – what I hope I said – was that she should never be embarrassed by tears shed in the house of the Lord.
Laughter and tears are closely intertwined with the heart, the very seat of our emotions. Being in God’s house, daring to truly worship and choosing to truly listen, leaves us susceptible to the very emotions we often work so hard to keep in check. Bottling up deep feelings, or pretending they don’t exist, may be what we are taught to do out in the world, but that is not what we are invited to do in the presence of The Divine.
Last weekend in worship I told the story of strong man who lost his granddaughter to an incurable cancer. He wept, deeply, as would I. The house of God is the place where tears are seen and laughter is heard, for this is the one place we can stand before God and others and be revealed for who we are – His beloved children.
If that woman didn’t hear me then, I pray she hears me now: Never let your tears keep you from God’s house, for in this place you can fully, and freely, experience His love and grace.