God has been teaching me for many years now that His kids aren’t confined to a single church, that His Body really is a family, that the least truly are the greatest. Kyle and I got to experience all of that first hand at our friends’ home last week. They wanted to pray for healing and restoration and for a new beginning for our family.
We shared communion made from homemade bread and wine from Christine’s dad’s vineyard. There was a room full of kids in the next room having a great time and occasionally requiring a parent to come and comfort one of them. I got teased for my hat and was told I reminded someone of the 70s duo Captain and Tennille. It felt like family getting together for an overdue reunion.
Everyone in the room met at the same church over the last seven or eight years. Now we’re dispersed throughout the city. Some are in house churches; some are in multi-cultural worship communities; some in more liturgical congregations. But we still have the same mutual love for Jesus and each other. Sometimes the fact that we no longer worship and serve together weekly has felt like a tragedy. We have such love and such a sense of family with these people. What I saw anew on that night was that God’s goodness and love for the whole world was infused through it all. I felt I was witnessing a modern version of the early church in Acts. The Spirit has used circumstances and callings to draw us out, to take His truth and grace to more people.
It was a beautiful night. They celebrated and mourned with us. They cried with us over the dreams and precious irreplaceable things that were lost. They celebrated the good things God is doing in bringing beauty from the ashes. They lifted up our requests to the throne of grace. They laid hands on us as they prayed and poured out love.
Our friend Eric read us a passage from Ezra the next night. It described the temple being rebuilt for the nation of Israel. The sounds of mourning for what was lost and the sound of celebration of what was being built melded together into a single prayer. There isn’t a more apt word for our lives in this season. We too are lamenting the former things that were good and right and true. We too are celebrating the new thing that God is creating.
They sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,
so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:11-13)