I have had a unique, concentrated view of the Church in the last 4 days.
I realized today, as I attended Ash Wednesday Mass at a local Catholic church, that I was “being hit right between the eyes with ashes to be reminded that everything ends, but that Faith, Hope, and Love are forever.” Sunday morning, I had attended service at my own local church where we worshiped with the fog machine on. Sunday evening found me and a friend at an old-fashioned Pentecostal meeting where songs and speech in the language of men and angels felt like fresh anointing and freedom. Tuesday evening, I sat with women of different ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and denominations and got to study the Bible and talk about how grateful we are that faults and flaws are not hidden in the Word, but covered by the Word Himself. So much Church in so many shapes and sizes!
I realized today that I am alive at an extraordinary time in history where I was given the privilege of being born into privilege. Given just those 2 factors, I have worshiped in minuscule villages too small to be named on a map in churches made of cement cinder blocks where the benches are broken and low and a stray dog might sit at your feet as well as in big city mega-churches with thousands of people with hands lifted high, and literally every possible scenario in between those 2 extremes that you can imagine. What a unique time in history to be part of the Church!
I realized today that this global Body and Bride of Christ has fractures and fissures and is far from flawless because She is made up of people just like me….people like me who have yet to make complete peace with the fact that we are all ultimately ‘sojourners’ or ‘temporary residents’ still longing for Home. One thing that has become clearer to me in the last few days, however, is that I am only at home in the Body of Christ. On this earth, the Church, however flawed she might be, is that home.
Church, there are days when we abuse and accuse, and days when we are being abused and accused, but I want to remind us that at some point we will need to truly understand the words that ‘He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.’ May we live out and live in that truth!
Church, there are days when slavery to sin – from as far back as the fall or 4 millennia or 4 centuries or 4 decades or 4 years or 4 months or 4 weeks or 4 days or 4 hours or 4 minutes or 4 seconds ago – still threatens; but I want to remind us that we were bought back from slavery at a price paid with the Most Precious Blood. May we forgive ourselves and those around us as we have been and still are being forgiven!
Church, there are days when it feels like we’re losing ground, but I want to remind us that the gates of hell will not prevail against us and that the Gate of Heaven let Himself be torn apart and open wide, giving all who believe access to an open Heaven. May we believe that and stop trying to shut the Gate ourselves!
Church, there are days when the sound of words like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control seems like empty, clashing, clanging cymbals, but I want to remind us that Holy Spirit is still working in us to keep us from stumbling and present us blameless before Jesus. May we taste the fruit of Him working in us!
Church, there are days when the fractures and fissures among us- living stones – seem like gaping chasms, but I want to remind us that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. May we put on LOVE over every wound and be sutured together in seamless unity in Him!
Church, there are days when exhaustion from sojourning speaks louder than the promise of Peace and Rest, but I want to remind us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. May we be blessed with peace and rest even as we bless those among whom we sojourn with the same!
Church, there are days where we will be told that we are dying, but I want to remind us that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead now lives in us and is able to give life to our mortal bodies. May we live fully resurrected for His Kingdom and His ultimate Glory!
Revelation 7: 9,10 (NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Amen