The Church, The Bride
I have had a lifelong relationship with the Church. It hasn't always been good. We've shared countless ups and downs but after all that we've been through, I am grateful to be able to say that I still love her deeply. I have learned over the years that love for the Church, like love for anything, is forged over time on long walks up and down the steep hills between life's peaks and valleys. And so the Church and I, with the many miles we've traveled together, are connected intimately. I have learned over the years to see and appreciate her beauty, which lies not in her exterior nor her interior, but in her expressions. Like a ballerina, when she is still, she is small. But when the Church moves and expresses herself to the fullest, she commands the space, creates motion out of nothing, shakes us with her grace and undoes us with the beauty of her dance. The Church must express herself, she must move, because she is alive. She is a living, breathing, feeling entity because she is nothing more and nothing less than the people who gather in the name of her Bridegroom. When the Church is a place, she is static, a dull hue of beige, a small box shoved full of stale traditions and rituals robbed of meaning.
When the Church is people, she is dynamic, a messy mish mash of colors, a wide open space full of new ideas and relationships built with shared stories.
Many people come to Church to learn theology; specifically about God and how to go on living after the grave. But it is important to remember that good theology is always shaped first and foremost by relationship. It is shaped by our relationship with God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is also shaped by our relationships with one another. The ways we love, hate, encourage, slander, lift up, and step on each other...all of these beautiful and horrifying realities of the human condition played out uniquely in our relationships shape our theologies in ways that sermons and books never will. And it is in these very relationships that we find ourselves immersed in the beautiful mess of the Church. It is here that we learn to love honestly, because honest love requires that we see the filth as well as the fortune.
My Church is attempting to live out these realities in a way that's completely new for us. This summer, we're inviting everyone to meet in homes for six weeks with about 30 other people from our community. For lack of a better term, we're calling these groups House Churches. But this is also intentional. Most of our people think that what we do on Sunday nights is Church. They're wrong. What we do on Sunday nights is talk, sing, listen, learn, teach, pray, give, celebrate, laugh, linger, stare, etc. But the Church...that's nothing anyone could ever do. As much as love is a verb, we must realize that Church is a noun. It is a proper noun, in fact, because the Church is the beautiful Bride of Christ. She is you and she is me. She is all of us, together, in our brokenness and our embarrassing worst. And she is beautiful indeed.
*If you live in or near the San Jose area and are interested in journeying with us as we launch House Church communities this summer, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for info or sign up online at www.awakeningchurch.com