Reflections on a Sunday Gathering

So, we've been challenged to not 'go' to church because as Christ Followers, we "are" the church. And we also can't tell Eric that he's done a good job after he preaches. He wants to know how God's Word is working in our lives. He could care less whether we think he did a good job or not.

"PASSA FUDD" {as Maddie so affectionately called him when she was younger} has been kickin' our booties the last couple of weeks with our new series entitled HIS HOUSE.

I'm not sure about you but this is typically what happens in my life. I 'go' to church {sorry Eric} on Sunday mornings. I feel very moved by God's Spirit to change behavior in my life, or to grow or to dig deeper ... I'm excited ... I want to process it all ... I want to go home and journal and talk about it and implement change.

... AND THEN...

And then we get home and I have to get lunch on the table and before long a NAP calls my name. A very yummy nap. And the next thing I know it's Thursday evening and I haven't given a whole lot of thought to that very moving experience with God that I had on Sunday morning. Shame on me. I have a great intention to FOLLOW THROUGH {there's that blasted WORD again} with what God has prompted my heart to do ... but I often don't.

So here's where blogging comes in. I'm thinking that on Sunday afternoon/evening {before Monday} I'm going to blog about my "God experience" that day. While it's FRESH on my heart. Instead of 'trying' to follow through I'm going to 'train' myself to follow through. {See Eric, I was listening at the business meeting!}

So here's where my blog readers come in. I'd love to hear a gentle reminder from you if you don't see that Sunday Reflection on Monday mornings. I'm discovering more about who I am and in the process am realizing that accountability is a HUGE help to me. This blogging thing has done so much for me, pushing me to grow because by throwing something out there on the world.wide.web, it makes it so much easier for me to FOLLOW THROUGH. I mean, I have to. I've just told a million people that I want to make a change. I can't just let that hang in the balance. It requires action.

So I'm going to REFLECT on the last two Sundays .... You know, those two Sundays where I didn't GO to church but I got in my car and wandered in the general direction of Park Ridge and happened upon a neighborhood and there, on my right, was this place that had all sorts of groovy people going into it so I thought I'd check the people out. I didn't go there. I just was. And everyone else just was. And we "was" together. Or is. Or are to be. I'm so confusing myself right now. It's just really, really hard to not say "I went to church." But I think I get an A for effort for trying NOT to say that.

I digress.

So week one was about God's Design for HIS HOUSE. The fact that it's not MY church. Or YOUR church. But it's God's church. And God's church is the people in the church, not the building itself or the pews or heaven-forbid the chairs. And Jesus is the cornerstone of God's church.

There were some questions asked of us that I gave a lot of thought to over that first week and the one that I keep landing on is this: "When have you seen the church working right? What characterized its gatherings?"

And without a doubt I have to say that I saw God's church working best and working right when I lived in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, back in the 90s. This 'church' was a mix of dozens and dozens and dozens of missionaries who were from all different 'types' of church backgrounds. Methodist, Baptist, CMA, non-denominational, Catholic, EV Free, Seventh Day Adventist, etc. And I remember sitting in this open-air 'building' and looking around at these Christ followers thinking, "Wow, they're not arguing over sprinkling or dunking. They don't question each others' authentic walks with the Lord. They haven't split into their own little denominations. They're together, as one body, in unity, worshipping God. They're about doing God's work in a land that desperately needed God." They put aside "partisan" lines. That made an INCREDIBLE impact on me. That was VERY healing and refreshing and powerful to me.

I distinctly remember having a conversation with a friend of mine and I said to her, "So and so is a member of such and such denomination. I've heard that denomination doesn't believe in ________." And this friend looked at me and said, "Alysa, I know that family and they love Jesus and are here to share the incredible Good News about what Jesus has done in their lives and how He gives hope and eternal life. I am 100% confident that they will be in heaven with me some day. I don't care what their denomination's doctrinal statement says. I know THEM." Wow. That floored me. THAT was the church doing it right.

Another question was "If you had to start all over again -- no buildings, no services, no staff, no programs, no traditions --- how would you do church?" And as unpractical as this is, if I could, I would "do" church outdoors, in God's incredible creation, with the guitar and the Bible and that's about it. Outdoors is where I connect deepest and longest and the most with God. The sweetest GOD MOMENTS in my life have been outdoors ... at the beach ... on Outdoor Education trips ... in the mountains ... by the water ... in the woods ... So, if I could, I'd do church outdoors with a bunch of other folks that love Jesus and want to connect with Him.

And then yesterday, when I didn't GO to church, I was reminded to be very clear about who Jesus is. Don't get fuzzy about Jesus. And then follow HIM. And the example He was. I love that he never wrote a book. And He didn't have a building named after himself. And He doesn't have an honorary "Jesus Blvd" in the Loop. And He doesn't have a sandal line of shoes called "Jesus' Feet." He invested in 12 peoples' lives - His disciples ... and those 12 have changed the world, with His help. Pretty amazing really.

So there you have it. My reflections on our Sunday Gatherings.

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