This has been the summer I fully embraced the community of my church family. The one where I attend services and the one that has connected me with some life-long friends and acquaintances. It has been a summer of gathering together socially and spiritually. Mostly, it has been the best time I have had in years and I am beyond grateful.
For me, church is so much more than a building or a piece of property. It is where I hear the Gospel read and where I learn from teachings by educated men and women. It is where I meet people from all walks of life with all sorts of backgrounds, from around the world, and even with various beliefs about our common faith. We come here with different political views, different customs, and different understandings about the world in which we live our lives. I have met single people, refugees, immigrants, LGBTQ families, straight married folk, and people who don’t look like me at church. In other words, my church is pretty reflective of the world and has enriched my life as I grow more deeply in my faith walk.
Oh church is far from perfect, but aren’t we all? I am thankful that church is where I found a place to recognize the ugly parts of my life, confess about those behaviors (sins), and in the company of others, receive forgiveness and the ability to let God change me. It is the place where people who know they aren’t perfect come seeking to find a new way of living. It is where people come and don’t realize they need to make changes and just want to be in community. So yea, it is pretty reflective of the world with people who may have sought therapy or may not know that they need therapy. It is where people of the world insult and hurt one another. Hopefully it is also the place where we come to recognize when we have harmed someone and seek their forgiveness and we learn how to stop and avoid improper behavior.
I have had the pleasure this summer of sitting around the pool at a friends home and having conversations about these things. We have shared the good, the bad, the ugly, and the changed/redeemed pieces of our lives. We have had serious conversations about what church should look like and what it actually looks like. We have shared our sadness that bad things happen and we have shared our joy in seeing what God is doing in the midst of those times. I have grown closer to people I didn’t know well and gone deeper with ones I thought I knew all about. All because we have met through the many aspects of our churches.
I am so grateful to be a part of a sometimes messy and sometimes incredible church community. I am thankful that church can be a place of healing and a place of joy. I appreciate that church can be a place where we learn from our mistakes and become willing to change our story. Mostly I am glad that I have a place to meet Jesus, to pray in the Holy Spirit, and where the creator of the universe is made known to me and others. I pray these weeks around the pool are just the start of experiencing God’s community more broadly as I see the church in homes, coffee shops, and restaurants. Thank you my friends for your gift of communing with me and especially thank you Rob and Sue for making this happen!