The parade of children that bounced its way into my church (yesterday) turned into a parade of people going back out into the world…. We sang; we celebrated; we prayed; we read God’s word; and we listened to the good and challenging news of the gospel. But then we were called to leave the church and to be followers of The Way in this world. We’re carrying the same message that Jesus offered, the message that led to the cross. Aren’t we? How will the Jesus story be told in our lives today? – REACHING TOWARD EASTER, page 116
We had a lot going on at church yesterday, but I’m going to focus my post today around the question, “What is a faith community?” I could simply share a few pictures, or I could try to explain the progression of my thinking. So I’ll do both. Essentially, what I have to say boils down to three aspects of my Sunday. Worship. Education. Community.
WORSHIP: Yesterday The Word was brought to the congregation via music and a series of readings from the Gospel of Mark. Our choir – which has been growing recently and is full of life – did a terrific job with some difficult pieces.
Mark asked me to sing a contemporary song and I picked “Empty and Beautiful” by Matt Maher. We did guitar and piano and it seemed to work. All the words are powerful, but this excerpt is a pointed commentary on the fact that one of the key reasons we gather together each Sunday is to celebrate the amazing truth that we are loved and accepted by God not so much despite our shortcomings but because of them:
This thorn in my side is a grace; For because of it the flesh and blood of God Was offered in my place, my place. You fought the fight in me; You chased me down and finished the race; I was blind but now I see. Jesus You kept the faith in me – Matt Maher
EDUCATION:During my adult class I asked the following question. “Palm Sunday is all about enthusiasm and Good News. I want each of you to share one “good news” item that you could say about being a part of this faith community.” By the time we’d finished – 17 people, each sharing one vignette of faith oriented personal truth – I was able to say make the following summation: “I believe the church in North America is in decline (not us, BTW) mostly because we fail to tell the story that this class just told. Almost none of those 17 items of good news line up with what people who don’t come to church think faith is. Isn’t it time that we invited people into a better story…?”
COMMUNITY: My adult ed class is certainly a great example of community, albeit in the more formalized setting of eduction. Ditto for the worship experience. Then there’s my Sunday evening “small” group. Last night we met to celebrate a couple of significant birthdays (Let’s just say that Steve and David both have big “zeros” on the end of their numbers this year…).
We simply hung out together, shared food, read silly and serious birthday cards, and concluded the evening by sitting in a circle to share joys and concerns before praying together.
What we do, and I recommend the small-group experience to absolutely everyone – it will transform your church – is life together. We do life together. Not just that, but we do life together in the context of the author of life. We do life together, with Jesus.
HOLY WEEK: Today is Monday of Holy Week. My Monday meditation in REACHING TOWARD EASTER is titled “Pushback.” A subheading further down the page reads, “The Opposition Takes it up a Notch.”
Again, here’s the concluding paragraph:
The parade of children that bounced its way into my church (yesterday) turned into a parade of people going back out into the world…. We sang; we celebrated; we prayed; we read God’s word; and we listened to the good and challenging news of the gospel. But then we were called to leave the church and to be followers of The Way in this world. We’re carrying the same message that Jesus offered, the message that led to the cross. Aren’t we? How will the Jesus story be told in our lives today?
That’s a good question – DEREK