As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve recognized that God enjoys redefining things.
As an English teacher obsessed with the definitions of words and their etymology and multitudinous translations, it drives me nuts. I like definitions to have the final word. Not so.
God has been teaching me how my definition of poor is different that His. My definition of forgiveness, different. Love, vastly different. God takes what once was concrete, blows it up like confetti, and lets it fall back down around me to both confuse me and leave me in awe. Church has not been left unscathed.
As a little girl, Church (big C) meant dresses and lace early Sunday morning. It meant sitting quietly in bony pews sucking on Werther’s Originals while a scary man in the pulpit grew a bulging vein down his forehead. It meant playing tic-tac-toe with my little sister on the back of the “bulletin” right over the section calling for more prayer meeting attendees. I’ve been to lots of different churches since then, and something miraculous has been growing beneath those experiences- something beautiful and natural and new. This throbbing, breathing realization.
Church is not Sunday.
I had Church on Saturday this past weekend when a woman we’ve grown to love, a woman we took in to live with us, decided to dedicate her life to Jesus and get baptized. So, our band of believers dunked her in a pool and threw ribs on the BBQ and giggled and cried and celebrated a new journey, a new decision, a new definition. This was Church.
Church was when we lost our third baby on a Tuesday and our people came from far and near with meals and tissues and games for El. When they gathered to pray for us in the middle of our living room and held our hearts in their hands so they wouldn’t break apart and fall away.
When I’m pouring Sangria by the bucket full on Friday nights and there are chip crumbs all over my counter and there are people I’m not sure I even know walking in and out of my backyard- people who both love Jesus and can’t even speak his name, people who have been hurt by his people and people who have made Jesus their profession- they all come because they know they are welcome to and there is a chair and a good story for them. This, this is Church.
When I stand in the silence of our backyard with my hand softly in my husband’s and he tells me he wouldn’t want any other life than the one we have together- this is Church.
When someone calls on a Wednesday night to say that their babysitter cancelled, would you watch little Johnny for an hour so she and her husband can talk for the first time in weeks without mashed peas down their fronts and you say YES!- this is Church.
Church is not Sunday. It’s the ins and outs of the every day. It’s the walking with your people. The loving them when it’s hard, the listening to them when you’d rather be the one talking. It’s the gathering to break bread, the cheering on your friend’s kids at their game. It’s the grieving with the grieved. It’s being inconvenienced for others because He first loved us. It’s the nitty-gritty. It will take everything you have and give it to those who really need it. It will be life-giving and definition changing and hard and wonderful. It will be the way you live your life.
On Sunday, I go to someone’s house. We sing songs that speak life to my heart and we share what God has been doing in our lives and how we see him moving. It is beautiful and moving and a great time to celebrate how by the Grace of God, we made it another week. To pray with each other, to edify one another, to spur one another on.
It’s a great place to rest after I’ve had church all week.