Rethinking Church

*photo credit

There’s a bit of an imperfect storm in my head with several thoughts converging–conversations, blogposts, books I’ve read; bits and pieces I’ll attempt to put together. This is a longish post and I’ve borrowed some words from my daughter (she said I could). Here’s my story, wrapped around hers. 
~~~~~~~~~
Standing at the sink, rinsing away the softened peels of still-hot beets, the maroon swirls drain away while I glance at my amethyst-laden hand.
I fit the large square stone on my left finger this morning because my right hand was too swollen. (Morning hands; I don’t know.)

I left my wedding ring in the dish on the dresser because I wanted to wear my mother’s amethyst.  It matches the new scarf I bought, and besides I’m feeling royal today–it’s Pentecost Sunday and we’re headed to church.

If someone saw me outside of my small fellowship with no wedding ring on, they might get the wrong idea about my marital status.

But things are not always what they seem.
+ + + + + + 
My daughter and son in law, 30-somethings with more children on the horizon (one is in Heaven), each have a full-time job. Some Saturdays there is still work to be done and alas, Sunday rolls around and it is catch up day.

  • Catch up with the laundry
  • Catch up with each other
  • Catch up with God.

They instead ‘church’ at home, as fits their lifestyle. It becomes not “Catch up” Day but “He’s right here” Day.

This is what she had to say this morning on Facebook,
“It’s one of those days where there are so many words swirling around my head while I’m putting the house back together. It’s a 4 day weekend & we’re trying to come out of this fog of the last three weeks with my husband being sick and now finally feeling better and just getting through to other side of what that looks like. 

The yard is calling my name to get outside and mow the lawn, pull some weeds and breathe the fresh air. 
But before I rush out, I will leave you with these thoughts about church and finding Jesus on a Sunday (a helpful reminder for us ALL). 

Church is not an obligation nor should it be made to feel like a requirement to be met in order to earn the respect of others or even the love of God. 

Church is a gift, a privilege, something a lot of us don’t realize is purely a blessing to have access to and be a part of. 

I’m speaking from experience and have learned in many ways to not feel regretful or condemned for not regularly going.
I know we have a church family with very supportive pastor and friends who have been there to always greet us with a smile and a hug and that is very reassuring whenever we return.

In the meantime, while we are searching for that balance between work, home life, and church I’ve been seeking and finding Jesus in my every day walk.

I find Him through my conversations with coworkers, friends, family, my husband, and even my baby doctor when I ask her to pray for us and she says she will (seriously, that really happened).

I find Jesus in music and singing and rocking out in my living room or car. 
I’ve especially been enjoying Need to Breathe’s album, Rivers in the Wasteland with songs and lyrics that resonate with every thing we’re going through right now. 

I find Jesus in the roses blooming in my front yard, the sunrise I see almost every morning on my drive to work and afternoon walks with my husband along the shoreline in the unreasonably warm weather we’ve been having. 

Jesus is in everything because he’s the creator of everything
Remember and cling to that as much as you can when you’re struggling to just get through. He’s always there no matter what.
+ + + + + + 
This walking in The Way in the style that fits them includes a God big enough to handle it if they don’t show up at church each week.

You might assume that my daughter and son in law aren’t really ‘walking with Jesus’ based on their church attendance, but things are not always what they seem.

They’re not the only ones.

My son, his wife and 5 children recently spent Sunday morning at home with a slow breakfast and Legos in the living room so they wouldn’t have to ‘rush out the door and do one more thing.’  

That was ‘church’ for them.  Family time, fun time, slow time.  Showing each other what really matters.  
+ + + + + +
I’ve been a believer for over 40 years and I’m beginning to think differently about many closely held beliefs about what church looks like lived out day to day, where I live. 
Where my children live. Where Jesus lives. 

The present world is a different place than it was in the 70’s. (Call me Obvious Woman). The ways we had of ‘being a witness’ or ‘walking with Jesus’ need to look different, too. Not just for the sake of the people we touch, but for ourselves, too. Fellowship is critical. Corporate worship is edifying. Encouragement is needful.

But sometimes we go to church for the wrong reasons.
Are we going to ‘be fed?’ To enjoy awesome worship? To hear a great sermon?
If we’re not careful, we’ll find those are the very reasons we will leave a church. 

‘Church’ isn’t a building, it isn’t an hour and a half on a Sunday morning where we look religious and get right.

What if, instead, you viewed your Sunday mornings, if you attend, as not a ‘landing space’ but a ‘launching pad’? as our Pastor said this morning.

Church should be a place and a time where we enter into God’s presence (for He’s already there), where we give encouragement and life away and where people are loved through us. 

To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”
In Him. In His presence. Not in a building, but with a people–a people He has made. A people He died for. A people He loves.

The best way the world will find that out is when we show them what being in love with Jesus looks like. As if we actually enjoy it, not as a duty, a have-to but as a want-to. 
And that we enjoy the people God has made, that we enjoy their company. 
Even people who disagree with us.  

My friend Tony lives with is wife and 3 boys in community, just like in the 70’s. (This is making a comeback? I’m thrilled.)  But his community includes–shock!–non believers
(Well, they have a faith, but not in Jesus.)  

When I asked him how they practice walking in The Way in their community he spoke of feet washing and community meals. Talking with neighbors and helping the poor.  
You might think my dear friend is a little on the radical side. Not exactly the same shade of ‘saved’ that you are.  

But things are not always what they seem.

What if walking with Jesus in The Way meant building an altar right where we are
At work? In the yard? At the grocery store? With our not-believers-like-we-are friends?

An altar that says, ‘God is here NOW, He sees YOU, and here’s what He’s doing.’

You could be in the Middle East talking to Muslims about the horror that is ISIS like my friend David did. He shared the same heart for the plights of women and children in the country as the natives did. And they’re not Christians; but they know ungodly acts when they see them. And they want it to stop.

You might think David is ‘siding with the enemy’. 

But things are not always what they seem. 

The only real enemy is the lie that makes our faith walk into a requirement, a checklist, a have-to rather than a want to.
I want to keep living in the truth, walking with the God Who Can be Found.  
Right where I am.
That sounds like church to me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Port of Tacoma view, L.M. Johnson. Used by permission

3 thoughts on “Rethinking Church

  1. Worship IS much more than Sunday morning praise, prayer, and preaching. If that's the only time I'm expressing God's worth-ship, I'm missing many other opportunities all week long to bless God and feed my own spirit. As for a cozy, peaceful family-time at home in God's presence? That most certainly qualifies as worship, a celebration of his abundant goodness (Psalm 145:7). On the other hand, I do greatly appreciate the strength and encouragement derived from corporate worship. I just don't think God frowns on a pancakes-and-Legos worship service now and then!

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  2. Yes. Church isn't gathering with everyone who thinks exactly.like you do. Its bring ing people together dull of differences and doubts and hold up a banner that says “Jesus is king.”. And regarding alliances with Muslims, I'm finding they have the same fears and doubts I do. And together we will crawl toward the light.

    And I love ypur idea of church at home — every day

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