Monday, November 11, 2013

Why We Come




We sit in the very last row, the high November sun filtering through glass stained green. I never saw myself in a stained glass church.

For nearly a year we've filed into the wooden pew several rows up, but the vantage point is different today, row after row of fluffy white curls, rhinestone brooches, hearing aids. And these people are changing who I am, the way I see the world and myself. They're changing the way I see my God.

I lost interest years ago in the debate between traditional and contemporary. I don't so much care if the announcements go long or if communion is passed from the left or the right. Still, I was never good at articulating what it was I was looking for at church, so I was never good at knowing if I had found it.

But I feel alive and known in this misfit community.

I watch the young guy singing in the choir, his burgundy robe covering faded jeans and a Cubs t-shirt. He waves goodbye to us after service, a cigarette dangling from his tenor lips.

Two teenagers hand me a chunk of bread dipped in juice, the same two teenagers I saw walking down the alley with their arms tangled up. She looks me dead in the eye, "Christ's body, broken for you". Her hair is wild and I know she is living one thousand different hurts. She wounds and is wounded. Just like me. I see my brokenness in their faces and I want to grab hold of them, because it suddenly seems like our chances of making it to shore are better if we tread water together.

I swallow down all of the grace, all the Life, all of my salvation and it has never made more sense. Our voices rise up together, a mash-up of different lives, different world-views, different generations, different colored collars. It doesn't even matter a little. "If you tarry 'til you're better, you will never come at all."

We're the best at nothing. We will never rock your world. We're not top-notch or trendy.
We are feeble. Failing. Quick with a hug.
We're clinging. Sometimes questioning.
We are beggars.

But we come, hearts on sleeves, grumpy at times, and always very sure of our need.

We come because we find Jesus in our messed-up midst.
We come because we don't have to pretend.


23 comments:

  1. What a blessing to feel alive and known in your church. It is what God intended.

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  2. How great that you don't have to pretend. That none of you are pretenders. I'm sure there may be a few, but overall...I have yet to experience that. I am so not a pretender. It hurts me when I see that others around me can't feel at home with who God made them to be. Keep being real and shedding those fig leaves. That is the only way to reach others for Christ. You are a blessing. Oh, a by the way, you're more trendy than you realize;-)

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    1. I'm SURE there are some, too. I didn't mean that no one pretends...just that WE choose not to and it's not expected or required. Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify! :)

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  3. The small church plant we attended, recently merged with a bigger (though not huge) church. It has been the most beautiful church experience I have ever had. Watching the body of Christ come humbly together for the good of the city has been absolutely incredible! Never seen anything like it and I have been in church for a very long time! It has refreshed my soul! I am thankful!!!!!!!!!!!

    Totally unrelated.....I am reading an incredible book "The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected". The part I read last night BLEW ME AWAY!

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    1. This: "Watching the body of Christ come humbly together for the good of the city"
      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I love it.
      And I can tell all the way from here that I would love the book. Will check it out!

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    2. Do you know about Inspired Reads? It is where I get a lot of my downloads...cheaply!

      http://www.inspiredreads.com/

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  4. "Our voices rise up together, a mash-up of different lives, different world-views, different generations, different colored collars. It doesn't even matter a little." Reminds me of 1 Peter 2:10: "Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." How beautiful to see how God stirs lives together to make them His people.

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  5. The only place to find Jesus, within a band of misfits. I am still waiting to feel that sense of "Yes. This is where we belong." For now, I find him in the quietest of moments, reminding me I'm not forgotten. Sometimes the depth of it hurts because I don't deserve his grace.

    PS. I love this.

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  6. seems like as good a place as any to leave my request...
    we're reaching out to have the family my kids hope kid over for a meal
    i just want them to feel welcomed and loved

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  7. I am so glad you found exactly what you were looking for.

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  8. I'm speechless....this spoke volumes this morning. We were changed by the people in our itty bitty town a few years ago, and now our lives have changed ten-fold. This town of mismatch churches and even greater variance of people, this tapestry of interwoven faith, Christ's Church, the body of people, together they accompanied us on our walk in faith.

    They stand to our left holding the lantern, so we may not stumble. They skip at our right, giving us affirmations and reminding us to go forward. They hold fast behind us, telling us to turn around when we consider going back, a reminder that looking back doesn't help, your past pains and hurts are forgotten in forgiveness. So we look ahead, and we keep walking with these people.

    Now our dreams are bigger than ever, God's in the business of taking those who think so little of themselves *ahem, me* and giving them great tasks.

    All this to say, you are an inspiration, and this broken, feeble believer thanks you.

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  9. "We are beggars"..."very sure of our need"..."we find Jesus". I too am a beggar, sure of my need for a Savior and thankful that in His grace Jesus meets us where we are.

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  10. i go there too. i am right there with the rest of the unpretty, the less than savvy, the unfashionable, the old, the broken. they come because they were baptized there, they come because they were married there, they come because they have a child buried there. they come because their harvest has failed. they come because God is good. they come to love and to pray and to worship. it is their home. they are a family. they sing off key and the pianist can't see well enough to read the notes anymore. they sing happy birthday and pray for their neighbor. they come to church the last sunday of their lives because to be with one another and to worship their Jesus is their dying wish. many are poor in material resources, but you could never tell by the way they give. they are weak and they are strong, a real salt of the earth kind of people. they are rich in spirit. and they are there faithfully, giving and doing and preparing. no one pretends, such a thing no one could fathom. i am grateful to call these my people.

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    1. You honor them well. They sound like an amazing family.

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  11. "But I feel alive and known in this misfit community."
    Yes and Amen. I feel like the people I am in the company of are helping me to see the Kingdom in a way I have never experienced before. It is so refreshing.

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  12. Love this. All of it. We are still searching for our church home, since we moved across country. I sure can't wait to find the place where we can serve and worship.

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  13. The first time I felt this way, it left me with a really unquenchable thirst! It was at a Union Gospel Mission program graduation, so not quite church, but more church than I'd ever seen! These broken and fully reedemed, loved men were cheering each other on. Our guy was graduating from the men's recovery program and all of the guys in his same situation got to share their testimony. The love these guys were shown by these other men - I'd never seen community like it. That is what I wanted. To be fully myself (brokeness and ugly bits and strengths all wrapped in one), fully known, and fully loved and cheered on. That sense that we are stronger together. Then, over a period of time, God opened my eyes and showed me how our church is growing into that. The other day I went to a women's ministry event. I was super hesitant, because small talk is not my thing. But I sat at a table with strong, beautiful, real women from Uganda and Congo, and there were women who've grown up in our city their whole lives, and a group of Nepali women who hardly know a lick of English yet. We were all there together, women of different ages with different stories, from different places, yet we are all part of the same story of God's amazing grace. God is awakening me to the beauty of my community already around me. I didn't need to search to fill that unquenchable thirst, I just needed to let God open my eyes to what was already there. And it is good!

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  14. Best reasons I ever read for going to church. LOVE THIS. Thank you.

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