Sunday, September 13, 2009

The church I attend is like any other church I suppose in small town America, the growth ebbs and flows. There are times when our little building seemed to ready to pop like the finger play (here's the church, here's the steeple, open it up and see all the people). While other seasons it seems like there are more empty seats than full. My church is like any other church in small town America, some times I agree with the Pastor and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I like the worship and sometimes I don't. The thing that makes my church going experience unique is that my Pastor is my sister's husband. In fact my entire immediate family with the exception of my brother who lives hours away, all attend this church.

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon with my sister and her family. It was an impromptu, fun filled afternoon. It was great. We hung out, we ate food, we talked, we shared, we caught up. I have known my sister my entire life. I thought my life would surely cease to be when she moved out to get married. We attend the same church and we live fifteen minutes from each other and yet, I learned all kinds of stuff about my sister yesterday. This got me me to thinking about what it really takes to know a person. You have to spend time with them. You have to talk to them. You have to listen. You have to be present. I can't just show up on Sunday's and stare at the back of my sister's head and really know what she is going through. Those of us who perhaps have been around the western church for any amount of time know this analogy has been used about our relationship with God. You can't just show up on Sunday and know God. You have to be present with Creator. You have to cultivate a relationship.

But the same holds true for all the people, be they fifty or 250, that sit around me every Sunday in service. I can't expect to have relationships without getting to know people outside those four walls. And if I don't know anything more than the back of their hair and what they said that drove me nuts, well then I'm not prone to really like them much am I? But what if I knew that they said that really annoying statement because they talk when they are nervous? And what if I knew they are nervous because their husband is losing his job, their children are giving them a run for their money, and they too feel so, so alone in this great big sanctuary? Maybe instead of muttering under my breath that I am the last sane person attending church, I might empathize. I might cook a meal and take it over. I might send a message of encouragement on facebook or gasp even in the mail. I might offer to babysit so they can get a break.

I just think it is amazing that after 37 years I still find out things I didn't know about my sister. I'm no extrovert but I love people one on one. God help me know more about your children than how they part their hair and what their political views are.

  • Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
  • 12.
  • Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
  • 13.
  • Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  • 14.
  • And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
  • 15.
  • Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
  • 16.
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
  • 17.
  • And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians (NIV) - bold mine:)

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