Monday, April 07, 2014

Beautiful Things (About Church)

So many things have me thinking about church and church stories lately, especially Rachel Held Evans, who recently solicited readers' stories about church. I love her questions and I love her idea of swapping stories, so here's me daring to say that this is just one in a beginning of posts about church. And, if you're wondering, I did submit RHE a little something. If she doesn't end up using it on her blog, I'll share it here.

But for now, I'm drawn to her question: Tell me a story that encapsulates everything that is beautiful about your church.

I have too many stories.

Church is a constant reminder to me that God loves people better and more capably than I ever could. That I am a privileged witness, a pray-er and an exhorter who sometimes doesn't even have faith or hope on par with whatever healing or restoration that God eventually weaves into a mess--my own or anyone else's.  In other words, I can't even imagine the amazing God-fix that he applies to the seemingly hopeless situations and mindsets and people. And so, it's a delight every time to see him do it.

As a I work with other church staff to create atmosphere where people can become followers of Christ, it's beautiful to me when people show up and say, I'm here! in every aspect of those words. I'm here to give, I'm here to love. I'm here as a brother/sister/mother/father to anyone who needs one, I'm here in need of healing, I'm here to receive. 

Beautiful when someone moves from the shadows of destructive choices and behaviors to living in the light, to using their voice, to telling their story, to helping others heal.

Beautiful when a woman whose been accepted in no other community of faith turns to me and says, "I love this place. This is home." Beautiful that she fell in love with the real Jesus because real people loved her with real, unconditional love. Beautiful that she gave up the old life, the running, the throwing-herself-away so that she could drink of this community, of the strength of its relationships and of the water Jesus has to offer.

Beautiful, too, that I/you/we don't need to own everyone else's problems. We can love. We can pray. We can help. But we're not responsible or in charge. Except for ourselves. But that's another story.

Beautiful to let people live free this way. Without us reminding them of rules and shoulds and shouldn'ts.  Beautiful, instead, to ask questions, to point them to Jesus and let them follow his Way.

And beautiful is the relief of knowing I/you/we don’t have to have all the “right” answers, that we can embrace the mystery and tensions in the Bible and in the ways of the kingdom, that we can live in the middle-ground of the now and not-Heaven-yet with promise here and promise coming. That we can say “I know some things...I don't know everything...I don't know that." But most important: "I just know Jesus."

What's beautiful to you about church?

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