Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday Report

We had a wonderful time gathering with the church yesterday. We met with the same group I visited a few weeks ago and had a great time. Lots of singing, lots of prayer, some Scripture reading and some great conversations in the Body. Not a lot of people were there but that makes it easier to have conversations. What is cool is that while there is not a structured schedule of what happens during the meeting time, everyone has the ability and is welcome to participate in a meaningful way (1 Corinthians 14: 26) and yet no one spoke over one another and everything was done “decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40). You don't need a church bulletin or liturgy to have an orderly meeting! Everyone seems to love the open, unscripted meeting style where participation is expected and the Spirit is free to move without being confined by our scheduling. Because of the small, intimate nature of the meeting I think people feel more free to be open and honest. Several people had very real prayer concerns that they were able to share. You can of course share those concerns in large, traditional meetings but it seems to lose something when you relegate prayer concerns to a list.

One kind of cool thing happened that just wouldn’t happen in a traditional church setting. As we were sort of winding down and chatting about Easter Sunday, a younger girl (maybe 11-12?) asked if we were going to have a potluck. That hadn’t come up before but once it did the conversation took off. The group we gathered with is inviting another house church group from the area to meet together on Easter Sunday so we talked about having lunch afterward. A few people had family plans in the afternoon so I suggested maybe we have a breakfast potluck. Then we talked about what to have and when to start. We decided to start about an hour before we normally met and that will be OK because when we start or finish is not really set in stone. There was no need for a committee or to get permission from someone. We just brought it up, talked about it for about 10 minutes and as a group decided. Contrast that with rearranging the schedule of a more traditional church, especially on Easter Sunday!

Things are not perfect of course. There are big challenges ahead for this group. There have been some jarring changes and the future holds a great deal of uncertainty and the unknown. That is OK and might even be a good thing. There is not a hint of self-reliance or self-assuredness to be found. I shared 2 Corinthans 12: 7-10 with these brothers and sisters:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)
When we have it figured it out, when we are running the local church meeting like clockwork, it becomes easy for us to rely on our own talents and our own abilities. When we find ourselves beset by uncertainty regarding the future we likewise find ourselves utterly dependent on Him. There is no place where we find greater comfort and certitude than clinging most desperately to the all sufficient Savior.

I am looking forward to watching God at work in this small, humble and utterly insufficient group of believers!

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