Who’s Missing from this Picture?

This was the backdrop for our all-church worship gathering Sunday.

81 year old grandpas who really prefer the organ, and 5-year-old girls who like to twirl to the music, and 28-year-old singles for whom 10:30 a.m. on a weekend would usually be considered too early even for God to be awake.

Side by side.  Singing Holy, Holy, Holy.  And How Great is our God.

It was a moving morning.

John spoke on unity and that there’s one Church.  And it’s not our Church, but Jesus’ Church and by grace, we get to be a part of it and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

I had marveled at the wrap-around slide backdrop, but it wasn’t until 3/4 of the way through the service when I glanced up at the screen and way up in the top left corner I saw a familiar face.

My own.

And I teared up.  It caught me off-guard.

I thought, as I have in other moving moments, “Wow!  I’m a part of this!  This amazing community of gifted, broken, redeemed, beloved riff raff.”

Not because my face was on a screen.  That was just the reminder.  But because Jesus came and invited me, and all of us, to be a part of this wondrous thing called the Church.  To be present to Him and others in community.

I wanted every person to see their face on that screen and know that they are a vital part too and that they’re missed when they’re not here.  That their specific gifts bless us, and their quirks form patience in us, and their pain is our pain; their joy, our joy.

I read an article recently that talks about the trend for people to be present in church less regularly.

Some of it is because kids’ sports are scheduled on Sundays now.

Partly it’s due to the availability of “virtual church”… easier to listen to a podcast of a great preacher than to show up and deal with some folks who may grate on your nerves or music that isn’t exactly your style.

Maybe increased travel schedules, or just fatigue from stressed and hurried lives have gotten the best of us, but for whatever reason, we’re not showing up as often.

I wonder what this does to our souls.

I wonder what this does to the Church as Jesus envisioned it.

There’s something about being able to give someone a hug.  Ask a question.  Cheer them on.  Delight in their joy or read the pain etched on their forehead.

I have a friend who I realized I hadn’t seen in church for quite awhile, so I called her up to make sure she hadn’t joined a girl band, or moved to Tahiti, or eloped with a gigolo.

She said she had been sick throughout the winter and had gained weight and felt ugly and self-conscious so she was in hiding.

I get that.  I really do.  There are times when all of us want to withdraw.

But maybe those are the times we need Church the most.  And Church needs us.  To show up just as we are.

And to remember… In the church of Jesus, everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect, and anything is possible.

So, to my friend, and many others who go AWOL from time to time, I want to say, “You are missed!  You are the Church.  And it’s not complete without you.”

Have you ever gone missing?  Or is there someone who needs to know they are missed? 

If you liked this post, you may want to read these others on the church: Communion Meltdown, and A Letter to Friends Wounded by the Church, 

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