my friend Sherri commented on my 'what's it all about' post. . i took her comment to heart and began to write this out, cuz i respect that she cared enough to want the 'ideal' to emerge when it comes to 'church'. I want that too.
I love the church - worshiping God by being in community with other people, accepting one another - all 'one anothers' not just select ones. I think that one of the things a 'church' is supposed to be is a learning place, we learn together how to get along with God and with each other. Community and acceptance is no mystery, or maybe it is? cuz it seems to elude some of us. Worship also seems to elude us, maybe we really don't understand it? *though we have no shortage of celebrities or heroes or people on pedestals who seem to do the trick for us*
I think it means holding someone in awe, praising them or being speechless, overwhelmed even at the thought of them. Its unflagging devotion and passion, being completely given over to, having all my thoughts centre on and all my time and energy used up on that singular focus. You know if i really think about it, the only one i worship like that is myself. . . So, have i ever worshiped God at all? or was 'me' always lurking behind the proper facade? what i could get out of it? have i had truly genuine relationships with others? *i think its hit and miss. . . i try, but sometimes i fail or maybe they fail, or we all do*
Its time for honesty. I think if every church member would grit their teeth and brace their hearts and fess up to this same predicament, we'd see that 'self' is this huge dragon in need of slaying. God knows it is. i behave like a member of some colossal dysfunctional family because that's what I am. We're all members, whether we are in the "family" currently or whether we have become estranged from it and found some place else to belong.
Once upon a time someone drew this great picture of church and its stuck in my mind. The 'church' should be like a bunch of white hot coals all heaped up and gathered together - their closeness maximizes their burning power. You take a piece of coal out of this pile and put it off to the side, it loses heat until it is cold. Take another out, and another. . cold, cold, cold. What happens if the whole bunch is cold?, not heaped or gathered, just all separated and inactive. . live coals get extinguished, cuz there is no nurturing of the spark, no flame - . that's not church. .that's death. I don't want to be that way. . . i long to be a member of a heaped up, live place. . i wanna be a hot coal but i'm afraid sometimes that this is only a dream. Its a dream that dominates all my thoughts and i actually cling to this strength of belief that there is a place like this somewhere. . .
You know, i think that people, churches can be fooled into thinking they're full of life - and maybe they are, but what kind? Captain Danielle Strickland of the Salvation Army once talked about the difference between the 2 kinds of life. . . 'bios' --Greek for physical, breathing, blinking, you have a pulse - you exist and "zoe" which means "Spirit" life. . . the invisible, deepest part of what makes you 'you' is contagiously ALIVE, way beyond existence to plenty --more than enough for you and plenty for others to soak up. Now we're talkin'. That's my kind of life and church.
Can God's people be this way? Can i be this way? Transcendently and purely attractive? Flowing over zoe life? There is this giver of life among us . . you've seen his work, so have i -- we're surrounded by it. He's a starkly and thunderously powerful being whose presence causes seismic shifts but he's got this great, bleeding heart of love for humanity. He holds the time/space continuum -- his voice activates atoms, protons, electrons. His fingertip touch sets off stellar winds and solar flares -- can i dare to approach his greatness with my knees knocking and my mouth like cotton? but this is not just God, He's my God - he planned my life before i was ever born. He did the same for you. He knows our condition. His mercy leaked all over the world when the broken body of Jesus bled for our calamity. He is our God. Can we dare to love him? I could kick myself for the years i wasted, my heart encased is concrete, my spirit lay shriveled and gasping within my self-absorbed soul. How little did i risk and do for him because i was frightened of uniting with his soul claiming, spirit igniting, body shaking presence? I wanted control, i cherished my foolish independence. I was sick but i thought that i was fine. I was afraid to know him, and afraid to encounter the raw, aching hearts and dying spirits all around me. How much easier to throw tokens at their misery, never touching it or taking it into my heart to feel it? Even worse i ignored them by pretending that the world was tiny, with a pleasing little orbit of my choosing, safe, predictable. But desperate times came and were followed by desperate prayers and much needed rescue. I don't know why i couldn't get it before, but there's something about hard times that softens the hardest heart and gives zoe life to near dead spirits. So, now how can i keep this great news within myself? I would never hesitate to tell everyone i know about a diet that works or a killer recipe or a bargain at "liquidation world". I should take out a full page ad in the paper!! His love is more fantastic than an 80% off sale. . its better than winning the lottery, its better than chocolate (i agree with Sarah McLachlan!) Even so, do i even know how to handle such love, much less contain it? I've maybe poked at this love, to examine it, even touched it with my fingertips and been content - maybe even thought that was all that i could ever ask for. Still there's always this part of me that holds back from embracing him. If i can only give out what i receive, no wonder God seems small and unreal in the eyes of the searching ones. Its time to receive more.
so this morning i was sitting out on my deck alone. . having 'church'. . ha ha! this is my way these days. . i don't know if its 'right' but I know that i have a lot more time to think these days not going through the Sunday motions all dead inside. I'll never go back to that. So yeah i'm on my deck. The trees are rustling in the wind. . i hear neighbours doing yard work, life is all around me, the yard is serenely beautiful - green vines climb the trellis behind me, the umbrella shades me from the sun and i'm reading my Bible like it was food and i was starving - taking in the book of Romans in the new testament. I was just talking in my head to God and i was staring at the roof line of my house. I noticed the connections to the nearby telephone pole. I saw the hydro lines running their course along the street and i noticed the connections of my house hooked up to this main line which supplied my home. I started to think about all the things i couldn't do without that connection. I thought of what life would be like without it and i didn't like that thought. Cut off, without power, cold in the winter, too hot in the summer, hungry cuz i'd have no way to keep food, no light to see, no way to get clean. . not connected to the network that supplies all the power i need to live. That was better than a million sermons. . i got it. that was cool.
Well, i've gotta stop . . my thoughts are always going 'runaway train' on me! but i'm still holding out hope for being part of a family again, a church one. . maybe i'll find some 'hot coals'?! maybe it will be nothing like what i thought. . i don't know. . . but i'll keep you posted.