What Does Church Look Like?

I saw something stunning and beautiful Saturday night at worship.

I saw the Church.

Not the church.  Not the steeple or worship band or the red carpeting.  But something illusive and shy, like a wobbly fawn that is often camouflaged in the underbrush of dead leaves, and can often collapse under weak, buckling knees.

It peeked out, and I caught a holy glimpse.

It’s common these days to hear the refrain, “I love Jesus but not the Church.”  We get all worked up pointing to her hypocrisy and judgmentalism and ugly blemishes and bad habits.  I’ve written before about how we’ve been hurt by her.

But I’m blessed to be part of a community of believers where Church-sitings, real Church-sitings, the kind Jesus talked about – the kind Jesus prayed for at the end of John 17 – thankfully aren’t that rare.  And I had one the other night.

It was a simple thing really.  I was sitting in the back of the sanctuary on the left and a few rows in front of me sat a woman my age (read “very young”) who was diagnosed a couple of years ago with Early-onset Alzheimer’s.  She is blond and soft and round and absolutely full of child-like joy.  Beside her sat her husband who is kind, and devoted.

In the middle of the sermon she got up and scooched out of the pew.  I watched as she ambled to the back of the sanctuary past me and turned left along the back row.

Another woman sitting in the section one over, noticed who it was leaving, smiled brightly, popped up, and joined her walking out.  A few minutes later the two of them returned.  The “escort” gently guided her friend back to the correct pew and her husband, and went back to her own seat.

Like Jesus guiding one of His little lambs back to safety.

Such a very simple thing.  But it made me cry.  The beauty of it.  The rightness of it.

Alzheimer’s or not, we all wander off from time to time and need someone to walk alongside of us and remind us where we belong don’t we?

The sermon continued, but the more powerful message was being played out in the pews.

The church was being the Church and so often that doesn’t get seen and celebrated for the wonder that it is.

When have you been inspired by seeing the church be the Church?

5 thoughts on “What Does Church Look Like?

  1. Yesterday I was leaving the building I work downtown to catch a bus, when I heard the click-click-click of someone pushing a bike behind me. It’s been a culture change for me to see people attaching their bikes to the bus each morning, to see bikers flying around turns so fast on busy downtown streets they create a wind as they go by. Since it was the end of the day, I imagined some guy with a helmet behind me, taking one last parcel to a building down the street. But as I turned around, I saw it was a young woman struggling to push her speed bike through the huge glass doors. I ran ahead and opened the second outside door for her, and she acted surprised. “Thanks so much!” she said. “That door is pretty heavy.” She just sparkled as though it was the first nice thing anyone had done for her that day. “You’re welcome,” I said, thinking how minor that action seemed, but how it also made me feel good. It was a nice way to end the day – helping a fellow traveler move on to the end of her day, and in so doing, feeling a bit of heavenly sparkle myself.


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