The Church is not a place you go, but a community united in spirit, the Holy Spirit. And I often join the bandwagon about what the Church, the body of believers who claim to follow Jesus, is doing wrong. Even that phrase “claim to follow Jesus” implies I doubt they truly are. The Church should be serving the poor more, be less hypocritical, less judgmental, more open to difference. I say these things because I believe them. Because I think the Church could do better, should do better, on all of these fronts. Now I usually say these kinds of things with a “they” mentality. I certainly am doing a better job at this than the majority, if I have enough insight to observe these weak points, right?
But seldom do I say, you know the Church is really meeting the mark, stepping it up. But I should. Because really I believe this more than I believe we are falling short. My husband and I both have jobs where we observe the hide in the crowd saints, those that don’t have a pulpit or a book or a blog, humbly serving the people around them. Every day, and I mean every day, I am inspired by members of the Church who live out their faith to the point of discomfort, hardship and sacrifice. In ways no one but God will ever see.
At MOPS International I hear stories and talk to moms around the world who aren’t trying to impress me with their feats of selflessness, they simply tell me how they live and it is obvious, they are taking their full force and loving their neighbors as themselves. They make dinners and clean houses and watch kids for other women. They rally when someone has a sick child or postpartum depression or simply a hard day. Some might call this ordinary friendship, but I know these members of the Church do it when they’re exhausted and have their own bills and laundry piling up with nursing babies strapped to their backs. They do it out of love because God first loved them.
My husband works at Providence Network, an intentional community of people, some who are just off the streets of Denver, some who are escaping abusers, some who have been out of destructive patterns for years and some who simply want to encourage. People courageous and broken and terrified and beautiful, letting their vulnerabilities spill onto the dining room table as they talk about why they need redemption. A family of saints who say we all need grace. Who give it and receive it over and over with a rhythm like the ocean waves.
And our sweet church, Celebration Community Church, with a tagline that says, A Fun Place to Get Serious About God. So we throw candy in the crowd from the pulpit. It’s a silly kind of fun that makes it feel less stuffy. But don’t let that fool you. It is not a lighthearted Sunday morning stopping spot. But a home where economics and race blend in the pews (or rows of chairs) like no other place I’ve experienced. Once a month we celebrate communion. We stand in line in the aisles to accept the symbolic gift of Jesus’ broken body and blood to remember the gift of grace offered. Our job, to acknowledge the power of grace and accept it. The people standing in those lines, brown and white and black, old and young, educated and not, English speaking and other speaking. For a moment, I think this is what the line for heaven will be like. The masses approaching the gates, not for a symbolic remembrance, but for good.
Oh how I could go on about the wealth I see shared. The parents I see committed. The pastors I see with broken hearts for hurting people. I see homes opened for shelter. Meals shared for nourishment of body and soul. I see hugs and tears wiped from each others’ cheeks. I hear prayers and unified voices, sometimes out of tune, but singing together.
Yes the world is made up of people that don’t live as they should, who don’t love as they should. It is broken this Church of ours and we the sorry souls who make it up reflect that broken state. But sometimes God’s glory shines through too. And the Church reveals the Holy Spirit among us and what is right in the world.