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)

9 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. I totally agree, and I love that quote. The unlimited potential of people coming together in real community, mutually supportive and with the aim of seeing one another grow is wonderful. What a privilege to be part of a community like that.
    I'm seeing more & more how people in the UK are becoming disconnected from each other by "busy lifestyles", but still longing to be connected to others. Let's pray our counter-cultural community can draw these people in to a place they are valued and cared for, first by people but ultimately by Father God.

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  3. thanks so much for your comment, Guaca.

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  4. Thanks Lynn... it's good to hear stories where God is miraculously at work in Scotland through his people!

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  5. It was a great afternoon despite the typically damp Glasgow weather. One guest told me - "In Africa, when you have a celebration and it rains it is the blessing of God". Saturday's party was truly blessed!

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  6. Used this story last night at a Bible study. Wanted to give an example of Christ-like lifestyles which demonstrate selflessness. It must have stirred up a few consciences as it got terribly quiet!

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  7. Great story - I was speaking about fellowship and community at church last Sunday - I wish I had read this first!

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  8. Thanks, THM. I wish I had experienced more and more stories like these. It's one of the reasons why I believe our church's experience with asylum seekers shows these guys to be a GIFT from God to the church; prodding us to look at our busy, compartmentalised lives that holds one another at bay with boundaries of time and social acceptability. With all my heart I thank God for these folks.

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