Sunday, May 20, 2007
Living as community
Since January I have been stirred by this quote by Bill Hybels. It sums up my love for, and delight in, the local church:
"There is nothing like the local church when it's working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in context of community".
I was moved to tears at a wonderful celebration lunch on Saturday hosted by one of our families who have, after 3 long years of struggle, won the right to remain in this country in safety. I cannot go into here what they have endured, suffice to say that TRULY God's hand has been upon them, even using them to save other lives during years of fighting in their homeland. They have raised the most beautiful, polite and gracious children.
The family hosted lunch (in a borrowed large house! - more blessing of the local church!) to thank people in the church for standing with them - and three churches in different parts of the UK were represented. We were all joined in our love for this family. Chief amongst the guests was a man who had laboured tirelessly as advocate, friend and helper, to the extent that he gave up his job to help our asylum seeking friends. When it seemed as though things could not get any worse a few months ago, these two friends felt the promises of God revealed to them as they looked at a moon obscured by clouds. They sensed God say the clouds would clear. They photographed that moment to remember what God had said. K was presented with a painting by an artist in the church who had captured that vision from God exactly in oil. He sobbed as he received it. We all did!
And also chief amongst the guests was the senior citizen from our church who, many years ago now, caught God's heart for asylum seekers; for the alien in our midst. She has cried tears over the years and loved these guys unconditionally day in and day out. She is nearer 80 than 70 years old. She spends her life daily caring for these families who are in desperate need of love and support, from every faith and none.
And this is what I love about the local church and the graphic and stirring example of community this weekend; that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor 1:27-29)