This Messed Up Glorious Church

Put a good book in my hands, a gorgeous summer day, my patio and a Starbucks Refresher or iced tea and I am one happy camper. However this summer, I have not been able to read on my patio as much as I have wanted. That is what I get for being such a crazy traveler this summer. However I wouldn’t give up those trips for anything. So this past week I have been making up for lost time! Friday I finished the book “Orphan Train” that I sadly began last May.

Saturday morning, I picked up the next book on my pile “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church” by Rachel Held Evans. And my friends, I devoured this book. I read it in three days. Rachel’s words are words that all of us need to hear. She reminds us of the gift of God’s grace and the beauty of this glorious yet sometimes messed up church.

Church is the place where we can experience that grace, but church is more than a church building. Church is everywhere where”two or three are gathered in Christ’s name.” Church is where we experience loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Church is every bit of it grace. Rachel captures it best when she writes:

Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us. Church was alive and well long before we came up with the words relevant and missional, and church will go on long after the grass grows through our cathedral floors. The holy Trinity doesn’t need our permission to carry on in their endlessly resourceful work of making all things new. That we are invited to catch even a glimpse of the splendor is grace. All of it, every breath and every second, is grace.” (Searching For Sunday, Rachel Held Evans; P. 113)

Oh how true my friends. We are all invited to experience the gift of God’s grace. God’s grace is eucharisto and has a way of always getting through. God’s grace is always always enough! It is a gift of healing and reconciliation for all of God’s people; saints and sinners alike.

“But our God is in the business of transforming ordinary things into holy things, scraps of food into feasts and empty purification vessels into fountains of fine wine. This God God knows his way around the world, so there’s no need to fear, no need to withhold, no need to stake a claim. There’s always enough—just taste and see. There’s always and ever enough. (Searching, Rachel Held Evans, P. 157).”

The gift is that church is the one place where God invites all of us to come to the table. Church is the place where we can share in our “me toos.” Church is the place where we can come and know that we are imperfect people loved by a perfect God. And as imperfect people, we are going to stumble along the way. We are going to disagree. We are going to have to ask for God’s forgiveness. We are going to have to pick ourselves, dust ourselves off and continue to journey along. We are going to have to be continually reminded of who and whose we are.

And as God’s beloved children, we are always invited to the table; called to ‘taste and see’ what Christ has done for us. It is our call as Christ’s disciples to invite others to that table as well; to know that this table is for all of us with all of our brokenness to come and REMEMBER all Christ has done for us. I realize that is not an easy call for any of us, but that is the beauty of God’s grace, God calls us to show God’s love to one another. And in this book, Rachel continually reminds us of this glorious messed up church whose doors are open to all of God’s people.

And even still, the kingdom of God remains a mystery just beyond our grasp. It is here, and not yet, present and still to come. Consummation, whatever that means, awaits us. Until then, all we have are metaphors. All we have are almosts and not quites and wayside shrines. All we have are imperfect people in an imperfect world doing their best to produce outward signs of inward grace and stumbling along the way. All we have is this church–this lousy, screwed-up, glorious church–which by God’s grace is enough. (Searching for Sunday, P. 256)

And to that my friends, I simply say AMEN!

I am linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story and Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart.


What I Learned in August…

I am linking up with Emily Freeman’s monthly link-up for the first time today. You can check out all the posts over at Emily’s Place.

Things I learned this month….

(1) Spending time with my sister is the best! Growing up together, we were pretty good at fighting and to be honest, sometimes we still argue with each other. But there is something so incredibly holy about spending quality time together. Our Nashville sister’s trip was AWESOME and is not one I will ever forget. I love my sister so much and the time we spent together is something I will treasure for a very long time. I need to be better about spending time with those I love.

(2) “I am an imperfect person loved by a perfect God!” This image came across my Instagram feed and spoke straight to my heart. I am indeed not perfect…none of us are…but we are loved by a perfect God. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”

(3) That twelve years after someone has passed away, my heart still aches so deeply for them. I was cleaning in my guest room when I came across the bookmark of my Grandpa’s obituary. As I read and remembered, the date (August 21) hit me straight in the gut because it was on that date twelve years ago that we celebrated his life at his funeral. Grandpa Sam was such a caring wonderful man. I miss him each and every day.

(4) Sitting on my deck. sipping a Starbucks Refresher, and reading is a place where I truly experience peace and Sabbath. I finally finished “Orphan Train”, started “Searching for Sunday” and have so many wonderful books on my to read list “For the Love” “Wild in the Hollow” etc. Since summer was so busy, I didn’t get to spend time reading on my deck a lot so I have been making up for lost time this week.

(5) Periscope. I recorded my first Periscope video today and have watched several friend’s Periscopes. I have enjoyed listening to and seeing in person the people whose blogs I often read. But I still feel like I have a lot to learn.

(6) VOXER! Can I say more? I love that I can talk to many of my blog friends and hear their voices. I seriously cannot get enough of this app.

(7) It takes a lot of people and work to get a hot air balloon up in the air. Some church members called me a week ago and asked if I wanted to help them launch a hot air balloon and chase after it. This members brother-in-law/uncle owns the hot air balloon. As they sprawled out the balloon and many held on to it, I ran the fan and helped to fill it up with air. We drove around following the balloon so we could be there when it was ready to land.

(8) A community of writers and friends who get my heart and who I feel like I have known forever. I am so blessed that I got to meet several blog friends in real life while my sister were in Nashville. It is hard to put into words how much these people mean to me. My dear friend Karrilee said it best on her blog when she wrote: “You just may find that you have found your people strung across the world wide web and you so connect in heart and spirit that distance doesn’t feel real. Yes. This. Thank You, Internet, for this!” Amen and all the yeses to that!!!

(9) I am so incredibly LOVED! Some days it is so easy to forget that, but God has orchestrated some amazing friendships in my life and family who remind me how loved I am. I’ve been so surprised and humbled by the comments I have received on my last Five Minute Friday post. I love you all so much too! (See also #8)

(10) I love music! Being in Nashville was awesome. I cannot carry a tune for the life of me, but I love listening to new music. In Nashville, we got to hear all sorts of music including one of my all-time faves Vince Gill.

(11) Prayer really does work! Now I have known this before and have prayed many times for others, but I was reminded again of the power of prayer. I shared a prayer request and so many of you responded with your prayers. God heard those prayers and our prayers were answered. So how might I pray for you this week friends? I would love to return the favor.

So, my friends, this is what I learned throughout the month of August. See you in September!

I am linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky, Holly for Testimony Tuesday, and Kelly for the RaRa Linkup.