But I didn’t go to a worship service for an hour on Sunday morning.
Does it still ‘count’?
DISCLAIMER: I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m at all bragging about my spirituality-infused life. I’m not. And I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m saying that hour long worship services on Sunday mornings are worthless. I’m not. It’s just that, for many years, I have had an incredibly narrow view of what church is, a view that absolutely excluded all of the above kinds of things, and thereby accidentally and passive aggressively made me feel guilty all the time. Unless, that is, I did one particular thing in one particular expression of love for God (go to Sunday morning worship service!). And, perhaps more tragically, the alleviation of that guilt (by going to Sunday morning worship service) excused me from integrating the Way of Jesus in my entire life. Therefore, I’m still wrestling with all of the implications of this new-for-me, old-for-Jesus way of thinking about church. Out loud. With you. For better and for worse. Thanks for reading.
I went to church when I went on a walk with my sister, discussing whole-heartedly what it means to follow Jesus today in the ups and downs of the relationships in which we found ourselves this week.
I went to church when I had our friends over for dinner and games, laughing and arguing vehemently for the Way of Jesus to make progress in this world.
I went to church when I had coffee with a friend, crying as I told him about a place in my life where I feel very stuck and gratefully letting him hold out hope for me.
I went to church when I volunteered for the first time in my first grader’s school classroom, praying I’d somehow be a blessing to his hardworking teacher and memorizing the gorgeous names (Paola, Abraham, Kourtnee, Davion, Ivan, Omar, Amberli, Araceli, Elias, Adrian, Wolfgang, Kloe, Danna, Karla, Ariana, Hailey, Melenie, Nick, Howard, Lilly) and beautiful faces of all twenty precious kids so I could call them by name next time I’m with them.
I went to church when I got up extremely early one morning to sit in my living room to read and journal and be silent before my boys awoke.
I went to church when I chose to respond patiently to and resist anxiety regarding a frustrating business situation, asking God for perspective and wisdom, then interacting with the people involved as best I knew how in the Jesus Way.
I went to church when I took my 2-year-old boy to play pooh-sticks: pondering his long lashes, watching his strawberry hair glint in the sun, savoring every moment of his childlike enthusiasm, letting him play as many times as his little heart desired (at least 14?), only taking ONE short video to show Daddy because he was being just SO adorably charming that I couldn’t help it!, insisting that the only place we absolutely had to go was Nowhere Anytime Soon.
I went to church when I chose to initiate (again!) with a person who is difficult for me to love and spend time with. I practiced patience, I resisted being easily offended, I focused on how Jesus was misunderstood rather than on all of the petty ways I am misunderstood in the relationship. And then I had a small pity party for myself, from which my sister patiently bailed me out.
I went to church when I took time to plan and prepare to teach another session of a Christo-centric Enneagram class I’ve taught in the past.
I went to church when I gathered friends and acquaintances for gym time, letting our 8 young kids run themselves sweaty in the gym while we adults caught up a bit.
I went to church when I sang my boys to sleep: Count Your Blessings, Great is Thy Faithfulness, This Is My Father’s World…
I went to church when I went on a run with a dear friend – a sojourner in the trenches of motherhood and one of the most gracious and open-hearted women I’ve ever met. She is only a couple of years older than me, but she is a wise, old soul in the best kind of ways and I always feel encouraged by her non-judgmental, non-comparison posture toward me and toward life. Whatever either brings to the conversation, panting up the hills, from dietary challenges to sleepless stretches, is always received with warmth and generosity of the grace and peace of Jesus.
Church: people called out by God to be the love and Way of Jesus in this world — confessing, repenting, believing, encouraging, hoping, serving, teaching, singing, praying, being quiet, loving, living, giving, eating, moving, discussing.
What was Jesus envisioning when He came to bring an entire kingdom of goodwill to replace the monopoly of the Temple mega-church? Was it – could it possibly have been – anything like my week this week?
PS. Sorry /not sorry that that’s just a photo of the video. I’m kind of a hermit when it comes to my kids on the internet. I’ll show you in person if you want. 🙂