There can be a bit of stigma around the word ‘church’. It summons very different images and feelings in people’s minds. Some are good and some are quite terrifying.
‘Church’ is much more than a description of a building to me. I go to a large church service each Sunday but it’s with a small group of women who gather each Monday night in my home where, what I describe as ‘church’ truly unfolds.
Todays post is a reflection one evening after a typical nights experience.
‘Church’ happened at my house tonight.
I am sitting curled up under a blanket on the couch basking in the presence of God that lingers.
“The Girls” came around tonight as they do every Monday night.
It’s a challenge for all of us to get here but it is such a treasured time. Some have come straight from work, still in stockings and heels. Others struggled to settle their little baby or leave a little one at home who is feeling unwell. Dinner was a rush for all of us and we barely had time to say “hi” to our husbands who were home from work late.
But here we all are, we made it.
It’s time to take a deep breath.
There are dishes full in my kitchen sink but nobody cares, “it makes them feel at home” they say. The kettle is boiled and we all relax into the cosy couches with a warm cuppa in hand. We giggle and enjoy a casual chat as the stress from the day starts to ease and we settle in for the evening. We feel tired and flat but are determined to make this night count for something.
We shared our triumphs and struggles of the week that has passed and praised God for the work he is doing in each of our lives. We remember, and take stock . . . Reminding ourselves of God’s goodness and the calling he has placed on each of our hearts. Doing life God’s way can be tough sometimes, we all agree, but we know deep within our souls that this race is worth it and we are committed to keep pressing forward. We pray that love and truth will prevail. We know we don’t always get it right so we encourage each other onwards to Christ-likeness.
We are tired, but we worship anyway.
As time is spent in his presence, singing about God’s goodness and love, the weight is gradually lifted. A freedom comes to just be ourselves and move as the Holy Spirit leads.
Some speak spiritual words and prayers
and others bask in the stillness and peace that has finally arrived,
not knowing if they will get this chance again this week.
The time is ours to soak in the love of our saviour together.
As we let the words of the songs make an impression on our hearts, God brings refreshment, peace and perspective. He speaks directly to our souls.
We are each filled up now to the brim, full of joy and thankfulness. Our cup overflows and we are ready to face the week that is to come.
It is time to go home now my precious Sisters in Christ. None of us really want the moment to end but our families need us, they are calling on us to come and bring a taste of the kingdom of heaven to earth this week. I thank God for each one of you and the treasured time we spend each week together. May the Lord guide each step you take until we meet again.
This is church to me and my heart feels so full each time we meet. Your sweet song to the Lord is such a wonderful fragrance.
Thank you girls for just being you…. and for letting me just be me.
I have been in several different small bible study groups over the years, but it has only been in these more recent years that I have finally experienced this genuineness of ‘doing life together’ that I always thought it should be…. and it truly is so wonderful.
I know that sadly many have never experienced this kind of community and love at churches they have attended and, indeed, many people end up leaving church and faith altogether because of this.
I would like to encourage you today by saying that these kinds of groups and churches do exist and can exist. Keep searching for it and pursuing it. It is possible and it is God’s plan. He longs for you to be part of it.
Do you attend a church or small group (or playgroup) where you can experience this kind of refreshment and intimacy?
No? – Ask God to help you find a place where you can experience community and growth. Invite him to show you how you can make a difference in the current group you attend (perhaps you could use this BLOG entry as a discussion starter?!), or, go ahead and be brave, take the first step by contacting your local church to see what groups are already available for you to attend. You never know, it may just be as easy as making a phone call J. You never know, perhaps God is calling you to be the vessel to start something wonderful and new!
Yes? – Praise God for the group you attend and the people in it, you are one of the lucky ones! Ask God who he would like you to invite to join your group