It started pretty much the same as every other Sunday: the family was up and enjoying breakfast together, recapping the past week and talking about our plans for the day and the week ahead. We were looking forward to visiting a church here in town where a friend of ours, and a former church co-worker of mine, was going to be a guest speaker.
Much has changed over the years. There was a time when our small group of friends had the privilege of starting a church within a church. It was birthed by people from all walks of life who simply shared a desire to know God. We started small and enjoyed all the deep relationships that come from being a part of something like that from its inception; each week we informally shared responsibilities and insights, we took turns doing pretty much everything we thought would strengthen our small group, and our friendships grew. Everyone knew everyone. We were genuinely excited to see each other week after week and it was always a thrill to invite others into the experience.
Over the years, churches have grown and split as always seems to be the case. Many of the people who were there from the beginning have found new places to worship and, tragically, many have become casualties; broken relationships have kept many apart (or it may be more accurate to say that the initial fallout created the distance and it’s often stubbornness and an unwillingness to forgive that has maintained it). After a while it’s very easy to become disenfranchised with church; it seems a far cry from that original desire simply to know God.
When we arrived at church today there were familiar faces everywhere. We worshipped God together in song, hearing from His Word, and as we laughed and reminisced, our kids played together, running all over the church building and making new friendships. After church, we all headed to lunch together—just like in the old days. The whole experience reminded me of those early days. It made me think back to the excitement of what was once uncharted territory.
As soon as we were in the car on the way home we began processing what we had just experienced. Our first instinct was to think how to recreate it again and again. When we come together as we did today, we leave not only energized, we come away with a fresh understanding of God and a love for Him. We appreciate the pursuit of Him and how we can each participate in it. The diversity of the body is illustrated in each conversation, joke, and story we shared. When the number of our relationships dwindles and when a member is missing, we all miss out on that unique contribution that only they could have brought.
In the coming days I plan to put more thought to these questions: What is my part in making more days like today happen? Who do I need to invite into the experience and how? Who am I missing because of a broken relationship or unforgiveness? What can I do this week to address that?
I would love to hear your answers to these questions. I’d also love to know what questions are stirred up in you. Is this worth fighting for? I believe that it is.
Today was a good day.