Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Message to the Church ......

...... straight from the blog of Ann Voskamp, "A Holy Experience".
I love her words.
And the messages they bring.
I hope you enjoy them.
: )

Dear Church: Why It’s Okay to Really Need Each Other

In the heat of Uganda this past July, I wrote a letter, a post, I keep returning to, igniting with, a post that’s gone far and wide and sort of went crazy, A Letter to the North American Church. That’s what’s fiery in my bones… The church is the beautiful bride that Christ is returning for and I am passionate about the church, committed to her growth, her relentless flourishing, her certain thriving, preparing herself for His soon-coming. How do we, the church, grow and strengthen into the ready and beautiful bride? 
I quietly have asked many of my friends to pray for the church over the next several weeks, and share with us here their own Letter to the North American Church.
Recently, my heart-sister,  Patsy Clairmont shared her letter with usas well as Elisa Morgan’s incredibly powerful letter on Broken that deeply resonated  and Scot McKnight’s letter ringing hard… and today, another Women of Faith sister, Anita Renfroe, shares profound thoughts on the farm front porch:
wild women f
The Globe Bistro Dinner
Women Build
In the Vault under La Condesa
Miami Habitat For Humanity 7th Women Build.
wild women h
Steeple in the Fall
Dog Wash
Habitat For Humanity 7th Women Build Miami
autumn in New England
Dinner table
Fall Picnic Table
Isaw Martha Stewart a total of 6 times yesterday.
Not in person:
Once on a morning talk show, then in Walgreens smiling from the cover of her mag in full Halloween makeup.
And on another aisle on boxes of vitamins for hair, skin and nails (what?), in a sidebar ad on Facebook for decorating tips, mentioned in a tweet about best cupcake frosting recipes, and finally in a mailer pushing magazine subscriptions.
It was a lot of Martha in my world.
Not that I’m anti-Martha, especially since she did a little prison time (which, in my humble opinion, may have knocked off a little of her superior sheen in the best possible way) but I have no idea how she’s so…(?)…ubiquitous.
Her marketing team must not sleep. At. All.
I feel as if she’s “in my life” because there’s a lot of passive interaction with her.
And in that way, she reminds me of a lot of some of the churches of North America.
Some of us, we do Sundays together in a dark room with only the stage lit, so we really can’t see each other. We emerge into the outdoor sunlight, fumbling for our sunglasses, trying to adjust to the glare.
We greet a few people we already know, then successfully retreat to our lives of passive interaction with our church, attempting to create small pockets of community in a culture that has done everything in its power to deny that we should ever need community at all.
It’s practically in our DNA. “We’re independent! We’re self-sustained and self-contained! We’re home, alone, staring at an screen commenting on other people’s lives.”
We enter our WiFi’d caves where we have been culturally conditioned to cocoon, not commune.
Which is all well and good until you hit an inevitable rough patch and you find yourself, alone.
The question is: How can we re-create 1st century community in our zero-dependence culture?
When the New Testament church described in the book of Acts met together in homes with meals and prayer it was not an elective exercise — it was pure survival.
They had no idea if they were going to be run out of town, crucified upside down, fed to lions, torched or starved. They desperately needed each other to survive and live out this gospel that Jesus had begun.
If you grew up in pre-1970s rural America community was a matter of the due course of life. A sense of deeply connected life happened because of geography (people didn’t move that often or that far away), proximity (you had firsthand knowledge of their lives because you were near enough to witness it), longevity (you knew the same people for decades), financial interdependence (you needed each other to buy or sell your goods or services), and you were able to interact with your community on multiple levels (your attorney coached Little League, your 3rd grade teacher was a volunteer fireman).
If we now lack the live-or-die passion of the book of Acts or the long-term proximity of pre-industrial/pre-isolationist North America — can authentic community be petri-dished?  Can it be really be effective as long as it’s elective?
But this is what I’ve also seen: When we are with people whom we did not choose to sojourn an unseen future, clinging to a common belief that God is loving and gracious and sovereign in all things— in that place where we witness each others’ lives up-close-and-personal, triumphs and tragedies hit us with the same force and we are left to make sense of the aftermath of both.
It could be about inviting the neighbors to our tables and building homes together and praying together and getting life under our fingernails together and we could come out of cocoons and commune.
It could be about us all being the church and choosing community is more than small groups on Wednesday nights: community is doing life with the people living next door to you. 
It could be about us not missing Him —  because we aren’t missing each other.
This is where grace intersects reality – where needs are met – where our stories converge.
Where hearts are known this side of heaven.

No comments: