As I stand out in the yard on this very cold winter's night in my nightgown and housecoat and house shoes looking up at the large full moon in the night sky, I am awed by the beauty of the eclipse that we are privileged to watch this night. The first piece of a bite of the moon is hazy and could be excused as a cloud. But as I walk out to check on the progress of the eclipse (it is way too cold to stand out in the yard for very long at a time), the view of the moon can no longer be excused as a cloud or even haze. It is evident that there is something different going on with the moon tonight. Something worth walking out every few minutes and looking up on this cold night in my nightgown and housecoat and house shoes. Then, when the moon was almost overshadowed, it turned a red/rusty color. The blood moon had appeared. How phenomenal is that?! I think it is phenomenal because I have all of the science and weather information at hand that explains all of this to me. I think it is phenomenal because I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who created everything. But, then as I stand out in the yard and stare up at the moon, as the red/rust color clears and the moon takes back its natural color, I wonder. I wonder who, this night, was in awe and who does not care. I wonder if their belief and faith in God makes the difference. I wonder.
Two thousand years ago, I wonder what people thought as they looked up at the night sky and saw their night light begin to be eaten by something that they did not understand. I wonder what people thought as they looked up at the night sky and saw their night light begin to turn red/rust - their night light begin to turn to blood. I wonder who was in awe and who was afraid and who did not care. I wonder if their belief and faith in God made the difference to them as it certainly makes a difference to me this night. And then I wonder.
Two thousand years from now, when our night light begins the eclipse, who will notice? When our night light begins to turn red/rust, who will care? I wonder who will be in awe and who will just not care. I wonder if their belief and faith in the one true God will make the difference to them as it certainly makes a difference to me this night. I wonder.
Church is hard.
Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.
Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.
Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.
Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.
Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.
Church is hard when the preacher speaks of abortion being wrong and neglects to mention forgiveness is available.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.
Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.
Church is hard for the sinners.
Church is hard for me.
It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.
But, here is the beauty of church--
Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.
Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a lesson in faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.
So even on the hard days at church--
The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my wife because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.
I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.
Church is a body, a family, a place to love God and love others through our struggles.