It’s great to have a snow day, especially in NC, where it is rare. The instant change of pace, the waiting to see how much will accumulate, the beauty of it afterwards. But, I have to admit, it gets kinda old quickly. (Although, considering Haiti, I hope to not complain about anything for the rest of my life.)
Libby and I were invited to some neighbors for breakfast on Sunday morning, since church services were cancelled. The couple had attended the Gathering Church the previous week and were excited about their experience. Towards the end of our breakfast one of our hosts asked a question, with this introduction:
“I have a question for you, a big one. Is there anywhere in the Bible where it talks about God’s love, and joy, and hope and the really good things that we can experience in life?”
Her church background had given the impression that the main message of Christianity was something like, “You’re a terrible person. Life stinks. You stink. And God knows it and is mad as hell about it.”
I was struck with the irony that what should be the most obvious reality about the life and message of Jesus, has sometimes become totally hidden by the way we Christian folks have often expressed our faith. What my neighbor thought might be the most elusive thing ever – a loving, glad, joyful, hopeful relationship with God, actually represented the very hope of God for us. I don’t think that she thinks that God has withheld such a life. She just doesn’t think that it could be discovered in a church.
But, you know why she asked the question? She had sniffed out joy and love in her visit to the service. She had sniffed out realness. She may have been expecting a hammer. I don’t know.
To be real means that we don’t hide our failures, weaknesses and struggles. They actually become the occasion for God’s grace to explode all over us. Just read the Gospel stories of Jesus, especially the one about the woman at the party in Luke 7. She was a ‘sinful’ woman,’ but to Jesus, she was the best example of love in the house – of how to love him. She couldn’t contain her love and gratitude. It must have been something to be around her.
Lord, may the Gathering Church be an experience of transforming grace, irresistible grace. Forgive us when we distort the Good News of Jesus, turning it into a “Try harder, you scum,” message.
May we be a party, thrown by the Father for those finding their way home!