Friday, December 30, 2011

Ode to My Church

The very reasons that I love my church are probably the same ones that would make others go running for the hills. You see, we are a rowdy bunch. We are a motley crew. If you happened to stumble in our doors on a Sunday morning (or any other day of the week for that matter), you might think you had walked into a football game instead of a worship service.

At times we hoot and holler and cheer. Children run through the hallways and bounce off the pews. We have literally had fist-fights in the parking lot. (That last part is not something to be proud of, but it's the truth.) It's not to say we don't worship when we get together, but it may look somewhat different than the traditional puritanical version of church you might have in mind.

We are addicts at all stages of recovery. We are the fatherless, motherless, orphans. We are homeless, destitute. We are single mothers, single fathers. We are the guilty, the imprisoned. We are the unwanted, the forgotten, the misunderstood. We are the poor, the jobless, the helpless. We are the mentally, physically, spiritually challenged. I say 'we' because we are a body. We are one.

We are the humble, whose acknowledgement of the fact that we deserve nothing only helps us bask in the glow of God's grace, mercy and blessings all the more.
We are the broken who have learned that there's not enough glue in the whole world to put us back to together and no matter how much mending we do there are still plenty of rough edges.
We are the down and out who've hit rock bottom and understand that the only place left for us is in the Father's arms.

We have hurt each other and been hurt, but we don't walk away. We have poured ourselves out and been re-paid with evil, but we don't give up. We have turned our backs on those who have done good to us, betrayed them, but they still wait for us. Why? Because we are a body.

We are different, diverse, disparate. We do not hide behind a shiny veneer of smiles and perfect lives, and I'm glad. Because when we come together it all makes sense. God feels real and He is close. And I see Him all around, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. The longer I stick around, the more I see Him, popping up to surprise me where I didn't think He could be found.

On a typical Sunday morning I could find myself surrounded by four or five children that are not my own, each trying to talk to me, sit in my lap, or otherwise disrupt the service. They are not 'distractions.' They are God's messengers to me of a world in need of love, attention, affection.

That is my church. That is the body. You are invited into it as well. By all means, come as you are, but by God's grace, don't stay that way.

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