Invocation message for the Sista 2 Sista 2022 Conference.
Good afternoon! Our theme today is, “I’m Getting Ready!” Are you getting ready??
Before we get started, look around this room and find someone you do not know. Wave to her. Get curious. Ask yourself, “I wonder what she is getting ready for?” Think of her as you pray today and find her later and ask her what she is getting ready to do.
Please bow your heads with me. God, we are all getting ready today for something. We’ve been on a wilderness journey these past 2 years. We have lived through things we never wanted to experience. There are things we’ve been unable to do, and things we are excited to start. Each one of us in this room is unique, each of us have our own story. The good news is that You aren’t confused. You see each one of us and You know our past, why we are here today, and the hope we hold for our future.
Sometimes God, we don’t feel like being ready for anything. Perhaps we wonder where You are in all of this. When we feel insignificant, unseen, isolated, or just feel like running away, do You see us. We ask you to remind us today that You do see us and give us the inspiration to get ready.
When we need a reminder. we can look in Your word at some of the women whose lives you touched. Women who were getting ready for an ordinary day, only to have You turn their ordinary into extraordinary.
Who was the first European convert to Christianity? Your Spirit guided Paul straight to her—a woman in Philippi named Lydia. She got ready one morning and gathered with some women at the riverside. Just an ordinary day, and you turned it into the extraordinary. Lydia founded the church in Philippi.
The first town evangelist? An influential woman Jesus set out to meet in Samaria. Yes, the woman at the well, who got ready that day to do her everyday chores. Jesus held his longest theological conversation with her and she gathered her whole town to meet Him.
And Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus chose to be the first witness of His resurrection. She was ready in her grief that day, remembering the joys of Jesus’ ministry, and the sorrows. She was ready to declare the gospel message.
You saw each of them, and You see us.
Hagar. A woman separated from her family, enslaved, and forced to bear a child for Abraham and Sarah. I imagine she felt like she had no control over her circumstances. She was getting ready to leave her abusers and she ran away. You found her in the wilderness, and You asked her this question, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Hagar felt seen by You, God. And she became the first and only human who gave You, God, a name. She called You, El Roi, The God Who Sees Me. You saw her and You see us. And we are getting ready.
God, no matter what we’ve been through, no matter what our present circumstances are, no matter what our futures hold, You are right here with us. We can hear You asking us the same question that You asked Hagar. “Where have you come from and where are you going?” Your question is of great comfort to us. After all, You know everything about us, already. Yet You desire to enter a conversation with us. You want to hear our stories. You care about our goals and You want to hear our dreams. You are not a “cookie-cutter god,” and we thank You for that. No, we understand that You work differently in each of our lives.
We want to know You better, God, so help us to get curious. Humble enough to know we don’t have all the answers. Courageous enough to build relationships with those whom we feel we have little in common. Curious enough to set aside our differences and simply share with one another how You have shown up in our lives. No matter our differences, we have You in common, God. You are our common ground, and we are in desperate need of common ground in our families, our communities, and in our world.
You search us out, You find us in the wilderness, You equip us and empower us. You are our common ground. You see us. We praise You for that. We are getting ready today, God. Ready for all You have for us right now, and in the days to come.
Be with us as we enjoy this time of fellowship. In Your name we pray, Amen