It’s Sunday afternoon, church service is over, both of them, heading out to the parking lot, kids in tow, ominous heavy clouds in the sky ready to spill their contents, Monday on the mind, work and school, and only a few hours left to prepare for the upcoming week…so what comes next? Obviously, it’s time to help someone move.
A few weeks ago, I was that someone.
About three weeks earlier I was living under my own sense of calm confidence, that this time it would be different. In defiance of my own history and apparent nature, I would be appropriately packed and elegantly organized by the time the first person arrived to help.
Saturday night, unable to move around my apartment without every couple feet lifting my leg to step over something, it was clear my confidence was misplaced. And now, Sunday, I hadn’t even made it to church, frantically working to get everything packed, or at least packed enough to make the trip from Tacoma to Federal Way. People were coming to help, and I was still clinging to my great plans of everything neatly and carefully boxed and labeled.
But that’s not what this post is about. There’s ample opportunity to dissect my many flaws and release my findings to the internet at another time. Today’s post is about highlighting the people in our lives who actively choose to care for us, the people who show us what “Church” really is.
My small group meets Thursdays in Puyallup. While we share a meal, we share about our lives, our highs and lows of the week, updates on our families and jobs. We follow the general format of most groups, discussing the prior week’s sermon together, gaining insight from each other’s perspectives, challenging each other to apply what we’ve learned. These are all great things, but I think something even greater happens in the midst of this.
Joining a small group is not really a natural thing. It’s a choice to place yourself in a setting with people who often start out as strangers. It’s a choice to enter into conversation with the goal of seeking and finding meaning. It’s a choice to allow these people, who have no obligation to care about you, to see who you really are. These are at least some of the goals, I think. And honestly it feels weird when you first join. Awkward silences or expectant pauses. Either way it can be uncomfortable waiting for someone to speak, or trying to come up with something to say.
But by choosing to welcome or be welcomed by people we don’t really know, share deeply with them, listen closely to them, we choose to honor their intrinsic value and the truth that we are family. That’s what church is, right? God’s children living life together, not merely confined to gathering in a large room once a week. And as a family we welcome growth, we reach out our arms to enfold new members in, willingly, openly, acceptingly. Well, that’s the hope. That people will experience the love of Jesus through the extended arms of his children. That kind of connection may happen sometimes on our green folding chairs on Sunday morning, (or Saturday evening now). Most often, though, it happens on couches or around dining room tables, as small groups of people gather to share their lives with each other.
So back to me. We were to meet at my Tacoma apartment at 1:00. Several members of my small group were able to come and help, along with my brother and sister-in-law, but by the time they arrived, the rain had too. I was mostly packed, but not quite done. So as I worked to finish up, my friends and family began to get everything into the waiting trucks, vans, trailer, and cars. Between us all, it was only one trip from my old place to the new one. In spite of all this goodwill and efficiency, the weather did not choose to make it easy on us. I laughed as the hail came while we unloaded the first truck, and looked around warily for signs of annoyance. But fortunately, no one decided to skip the bad weather and drive home with my stuff. No one even showed signs the situation was less than ideal. They all braved the elements to fill up my empty rooms, to put together furniture, and unpack my kitchen supplies into drawers and cupboards.
It was amazing to feel so well cared for by these people who, without hesitation, gave up their Sunday afternoon to settle me into my new home. It’s one of my favorite experiences of real church, and it makes me want to be a part of helping others to experience that care as well.
It’s been a few weeks, not quite a month. There are still some times in my kitchen I find myself hunting for some specific utensil because I wasn’t the one to choose its home. I always find it eventually, and the hunt always makes me smile. Before long, I’ll know for sure where everything lives in my kitchen and in all the rooms in my new apartment, but for now I just love the reminder.
To find out more about experiencing what “Church” really is through a DiscoGroup check out more info at www.discochurch.com/groups/