A necessary practice that will move us beyond theory, is to take time to process how God is speaking to us (and God IS constantly speaking!) With permission, I’m sharing a story, a not unusual day in my life or the life of a pastor, but a day when God “spoke to me.” I was reminded how the church is at work “under the radar” of our usual church-growth metrics. Here is the sermon audio and the written story is below:
[Church Outside the Walls]
I walked into the wake
knowing I couldn’t stay too long
and I didn’t know the family too well.
“Thanks so much for coming, Pastor.”
This new-acquainted sister of mine is a grieving daughter today;
mourning her mother after the heavy weight of caring well;
after the all too short wait for the expected end.
“Pastor, meet my dad.”
Her father looked up with sorrowful eyes.
“Thank you for coming, Pastor,” he said
not knowing me, but so sincere.
I told her, “I can’t stay for the service, but I wanted to stop by.”
I extend hands and hugs to the row of exhausted family.
I’m a welcomed stranger touching the tender nerves of loss.
I turned to leave, 6 radiant smiles of other women from our church.
“Oh, Pastor, so glad to see you!” as though surprised.
I was deeply touched by this moment.
These women have not just “stopped by.”
They’ve been here – for the duration.
They’ve been here – from the start:
listening and laughing;
serving and sistering.
They meet each week – or more
Praying and learning
listening and laughing; serving and sistering.
That’s just what they do.
Now, if the grieving sister were asked later,
“Has your church been there for you?”
I’m guessing she’d say, “Oh yes! My whole band of sisters
has walked beside me every step!”
“And, by the way, a pastor called and prayed and stopped by.”
But I wonder how many scores of people felt Jesus’ touch
through these women, that day and beyond?
Precious-to-God people who may not be entering a church building any time soon?
Come to think of it, only half of these women from our church were able to be “in church” the next Sunday.
I was having a grand Epiphany! A moment of beautiful clarity.
Known well in theory; but again now in Praxis:
The Church is outside the walls – going at full speed – unleashed!
This day’s liturgy is truly “the work of the people.”
A long vigil; a Holy Day of caring.
Spontaneous worship; teaching on the run; prayer without ceasing.
Ever since the widow gave her tiny, extravagant coins;
and Lydia’s thriving purple business, financed an infant church;
and Priscilla and Aquilla, tent-makers and disciple-makers
taught young triple A Apollos more complete doctrine in their home…
The Ordinary Ministry – has been notoriously underrated;
The Body’s work – often undocumented;
at least by the “experts;”
but NOT unnoticed by Jesus, the Head.
The One who measures true “success.”
A SUGGESTED PRAYER TO BEGIN EACH DAY:
Lord I want to be available, to be your hands and feet today;
How are you speaking to me
Where are you at work?
How do you want me to join you?
OR in the words of one of our ‘senior saints:’
“Good morning, Lord!
What are you up to today?
How can I be involved?
OR like the child Samuel (and Mary, mother of Jesus)
“Speak, Lord; your servant is listening.”