I introduced by latest project in my post Mud Pies for Jesus – 1/2/2017. Let’s call it Project Space.
Let me start by telling you about yesterday. I went to the funeral of dear friend and brother from our church family. He wasn’t much older than me, and his death was very sudden. I wept.
I wept for myself – I will miss my friend. He was a faithful member of our weekly bible study and of our Sunday morning gatherings and I will miss his fellowship. He was kind and generous and knew how to make people feel precious. It was a privilege and a joy to see the Lord at work in him. I will miss my friend and I wept.
I wept for his father. Also a member of our church family, he has lost his wife and now his son in the course of a couple of years.
I wept with joy at the hope we have in Jesus. I wept with joy that my friend is home and well and whole.
I wept with sorrow for the lost – for those who, as yet, do not have hope in Jesus.
But I also wept for our church.
I wept with sorrow that there are influential members of our church who do not believe that their friends and family, neighbours and colleagues need the hope of Jesus. I wept with sorrow that our resources and priorities as a church are reserved for the task of providing our community not with the hope of the gospel, but with a well maintained church to tell them what they want to hear and to be there as on-going something in the village.
And I wept at the reminder of the mess caused by damaged relationships. Some of those who have left our church over the past five years still live locally and so were able to come and join us in our grief and, in most cases, our hope. Let me be very clear – it was GOOD and RIGHT that we could gather together yesterday. I was glad to see my brothers and sisters. But it also made me weep with the sadness of the conflicts and hurt and loss of friendships and fellowship. The loss of partners in the gospel, the loss of co-workers in the job of sharing the hope of Jesus to those who are currently without hope. The loss of mutual encouragement as the Day approaches. The loss of those to spur and be spurred on to love and good deeds. The loss of those to gather with.
I do not write this now to accuse, or persuade. I do not bring this up now to force anyone over old ground, or to resurrect past conflict. I simply weep at where we are. I am simply telling the story behind my tears.
You see – love hurts! At least it does this side of death. I think it is a good thing that yesterday’s tears soak into the pages of Project Space as a reminder that church is not a job to get done, a task to succeed in, a doctrine to get right, or a good book to read or indeed a blog to write, but rather a messy and yet precious family that God has put a messy me in to love and be loved by in Christ. A family to sit under the Lordship of Christ with in thankfulness, endurance, forgiveness, patience, obedience, compassion, faithfulness, humility, gentleness and HOPE.
Lord, please teach me to love, teach me the truth about what you call us to as your people, show me where I need to be forgiven, and where I need to forgive. Protect me from despair, bitterness, impatience and ungodly anger as I delve into the mess. May the light of your victory, the promise of your return, and the knowledge of your love for me, for your people, for the lost and for your glory keep me in perfect peace. As my saviour taught us I pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever, Amen.