Sunday I woke up dreading church. This happens sometimes. I don’t exactly dread it, but I don’t always feel the same passion for it. I guess if you do the same thing the same way it becomes boring sometimes no matter how much you love it or believe in it. We have been doing our house church now for over twenty years and our mission remains the same… to provide a worship experience and sense of Christian community for the unchurched here in our inner city neighborhood. But if we are not careful we take the grandeur of God for granted.
In point of fact, church is anything but boring… simply because we never know what to expect. We don’t know who will show up and we don’t know what God is going to do. But there are some things we know will happen every Sunday. The first is that I leave the house early to pick up whoever has expressed an interest in coming that week… from a pool of twenty young people. And then there are a dozen families and young adults who may come on their own on any given Sunday. So from this pool of fifty on any Sunday we typically have anywhere from five to twenty people in our house… and we don’t know who’s gonna be there until fifteen minutes after the start of church.
The second thing we know will happen is that Lisa will prepare a wholesome family sit-down meal for whoever shows up. Again, she literally does not know who or how many until after the scheduled time for church to begin. I am convicted of failing to appreciate the patience, love and compassion, not to mention sheer hard work, which goes into this labor of love she performs each week. But every week people leave here full in tummy as well as full in Spirit. Some weeks it is literally the loaves and the fishes… If we are not careful we take the grandeur of God for granted.
The third thing we know will happen is that God will show up. Whether through my teaching, or Lisa’s sharing or worship leading, or any contribution by any member of our parish… Christ is lifted up. But if we are not careful we take the grandeur of God for granted. Last Sunday it almost happened to me. It was one of those times after which you sit and wonder what just happened. There were a dozen of us… half of whom were young men who if they were walking in the neighborhood the average passerby would cross the street to avoid them… and we worshiped and prayed and read scripture and shared a meal together. And it was halfway through church I realized… there are very few places where this could happen. What was happening now before my eyes was a manifestation of God’s grace.
But you have to understand… I metaphorically eat, sleep and live with these people. I am involved in their lives almost everyday. I witness the struggle with injustice and with sin, I see the shortcomings, I feel the heartache and disappointment, I experience the anger and frustration… right there with them. And so when we together are exalted into God’s presence through worship, prayer and the teaching of scripture… I’m right there and it is not lost on me. I try to be careful not to take the grandeur of God for granted. Don’t you do it either. Thank you for your gifts and prayers which enable our ministry here and the transformation of all of our lives by God’s grace.