I just spent the weekend visiting the church I went to during college, and, similarly to when I came back to my home church in Plano, I was greeted with big smiles and bigger hugs. Many didn't know I was coming to visit, or even that I was back, so it was a huge surprise to them and super fun for me. Most encouraging was that the number one thing I heard as people were welcoming me home was, "I thought about you so much while you were gone, wanting to talk to you and wishing you were here; so I've been praying for you a lot." This was from friends my age and more so from friends my parents' age-ish. It was the same thing my first Sunday back in Plano.
Eventhough I knew that to be the case while in Switzerland and frequently anchorered myself to the sure but dim knowledge of those prayers during good times and bad, I'm still awed by it now. I'm humbled by the big-ness of life that includes me but isn't centered on me, reminding me of life's connectedness. I'm connected to a bigger community amid larger happenings. Somehow, when the ceiling began to crack and it seemed as though the roof was caving in over my head, beneath the surface lay a foundation deep and strong. Life is happening beyond what I can see and feel and I am connected to it. I know this is no great revelation, but it is humbling and encouraging, refreshing, energizing, motivating. And I just wanted to give a shout out to these two churches.
I'm fortunate, I know, because at the end of the day, regardless of the doctrines I disagree with and the things that really get me fired up and even down right angry, no matter what arrogant and shallow-minded, young, 'We Know Everything' attitude reveals itself in something I say or do, despite all of those things, we know eachother. We love eachother, these churches and I; it's family and it's home. There are endearing quirks and irritating entrenchments. We fight it out and laugh it off; we overlook certain things and agree to disagree. And it's worth it. It's worth putting up with and it's nice to know I'm worth putting up with too.
It's nice to know that this relationship is two-sided. If you're church-hunting and if you want my advice, once you think you might have landed somewhere, invest. Invest in the generation before you as well as the one after you. Invest in men and women who posses a faith that is long-suffering, producing in them a character that is charitable. Putting effort into a good relationship yields character-building benefits. I am fortunate. Because it is two-sided and sometimes one (or both) of the sides is crap: straying from true religion (Jm 1:27, 1 Tim 5:4), we forget Christ and expect white roses to be red, or we simply skip the whole thing and pretend by putting in perfect rows of plastic tulips. At any rate, I just wanted to write about church from a positive perspective, from the garden that springs up out of the manure as God tills and waters and prunes, creating good for those who respond to his call with loving duty: tilling, watering, pruning (Rom 8:28).
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