Today I want to talk about those moments where church felt like The Church, like everything it was supposed to be and nothing it wasn’t.
It was every mother’s worst nightmare.
Okay not their WORST nightmare but still, it was a nightmare.
My children and I arrived for church on time, got our bagels and coffee and headed to their children’s church rooms only to discover that children’s church was on a holiday that Sunday.
And I hadn’t a crayon or matchbox car or board book on my person.
And I was meeting friends for “big church.”
And I wanted to sit down and cry because without children’s church it’s very hard for me to meet up with God in big church.
Yet we carried on and made our way to the usual row of plastic chairs while I gave my kids a pep talk: “Okay guys, we can do this! It’s good to be still and AFTER the singing you can take turns with my iPhone and coloring on this bulletin with a golf pencil. I understand that you’re sad about your church being closed, me too, but we’re in this together, okay?”
Okay. Here goes nothing. I can do this… No I can’t let’s just go home… no… teachable moment! teachable moment!
We sang, the teaching started and my kids took turns playing Angry Birds and scribbling with the golf pencil.
My dear friend Alyssa shared pens with Noelle and allowed her to kiss her as many times as she wanted, which with Noelle is always at least a couple dozen. She’s a kisser, should this worry me?
They got noisy any time it was “their turn” to surrender the iPhone.
They fidgeted and switched positions
Then suddenly I looked over at the chair my son was sitting on and realized he was holding a drawing of a jeep.
What the what?
I looked around and soon I’d figured it out, the gentleman sitting in the row behind us, a father of older boys, was drawing pictures. For my kids. He looked up from his next creation and shrugged with a smile.
As I gave him my “You sir are a saint” look his wife passed Caedmon a colorful pen he could use to color in the jeep.
A few moments passed when I realized that Caedmon now had a drawing of a motorcycle AND a jeep. I turned around with another grateful look while the lady behind me mouthed “been there” and smiled.
I was able to focus on the sermon for a while and before long I looked over and saw Noelle holding a drawing of a horse. And these were good drawings people, like art quality sketches.
At this point I cried happy tears from some place deep, some place that identified with what Christ wanted his church to be for each other and the world.
As my friend helped Noelle with her Pony and Caedmon zoomed his motorcycle paper it hit me.
This is church, This is how it’s supposed to be. It’s never really been about the music or the bulletins or the teaching style… that’s all good but THIS IS CHURCH!
This is two or three gathered in his name and actively making that name known to each other.
It’s not a crowd of people rolling their eyes at the woman with the noisy preschoolers. It’s drawing motorcycles and receiving kisses and above all else fostering the idea that we really are in this together.
And don’t we all need those moments where the church nails it to keep going? To keep showing up?
I don’t always have to be on the receiving end of things, I don’t believe in being a church consumer, I just need to regularly break down in tears over the obvious love of Jesus coming to life around me.
I do. I need to cry about it.
Or else I will forget what we’re really doing and get lost in church budgets and ministry plans and mission statements.
Then I’ll get cynical. And when I’m cynical I’m not compassionate and when I’m not compassionate I can’t hear what the Spirit needs me to be doing.
Then I start thinking about only myself and rationalizing a whole bunch of selfish things and throwing out a whole slew of judgements at those around me.
I need the healing of tears, weekly if not daily.
My prayer for us this this week is that we are all brought to tears because the love of Jesus showed up, because the Church nails it.
Not the buildings, Not the committees, The people. The Church.
I pray that every person who reads this plays a part in warming up our cold, gray world with a love that says “here I want to lift you up and I’m willing to give up something up to get us there, because you matter, your life, your struggles are not annoying me… in fact I want to share them.”
I’m willing to draw a motorcycle so that you can get a bit more sermon in your ears.
I’m willing to give up some fun money so you have money for gas and food.
I’m willing to give up time so your marriage has a fighting chance.
I’m willing to get there late so you don’t have to spend another second stuck in a snowbank.
Because you matter and if I’m thriving and you’re struggling then I’m doing it all wrong.
So as we plant a church, I’m setting a goal to cry more, to stay tender, to bear witness to more moments when we the Church… nail it.
Had the (big c) church brought you to joyful tears lately?
If you’re still cynical is there a ray of hope?