Missing Church?

Mark Batterson recently tweeted: One of my driving motivations as a pastor is this – do people actually MISS church when they MISS church?

A couple of weeks ago on Sunday I was away from home.  We knew there was going to be an opening worship service for the conference we were at so no morning worship was planned.  But then some folks got together and said, “There’s just something about the Body gathered for Sunday morning worship that seems…holy…honoring…right. Like we’re missing something without it.”

They weren’t being legalistic, but they decided to put together a Sunday morning time of worship for anyone who wanted to come.  Lazily I almost didn’t go, but at the last minute slipped into the back and was treated to voices from every continent raised together in praise, a corporate exercise in adoration using the Psalms, and a simple Bible message.  Reminders all of the love of Jesus and the power of the Body joined in community.

This discipline of gathering as the church, weekly, has been something I’ve been pondering a lot recently. Continue reading

Who’s in, Who’s out, and the Last 10%, part one

Awhile ago I was sitting around a table with a bunch of people with job titles, and advanced degrees, accomplishments out the wazoo, and years of valuable experience.  And I felt like the outsider.  Not a valid contributor to the discussion.  A toddler sitting at the grown-up’s table.  Not a big deal.  It happens.  A good exercise in humility.  But it made me think…

I’m not a Bachelor/Bachelorette addict, but I have watched enough with my daughter, Maggie.  I know when the girl doesn’t get the rose and is in the back seat of the limo crying or angry, it’s not about losing the true love of her life.  It’s about not getting chosen.  Feeling “not good enough.”  Suddenly on the outside when others are still in.

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Isn’t this why reality t.v. is so popular?  We are a culture of insiders and outsiders.

We love judging.

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Hungry for More Than Christmas Cookies

Today I was supposed to go to Weight Watchers.  Instead I made Christmas cookies.

And by that I mean I made Jeans Bars, so named because they’re guaranteed to make your jeans tight.  Yeah.  I know, I know…

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But, it got me to thinking about the food I need far more than Christmas cookies.

And the God who has given to all of us who are hungry and thirsty for that “more”…

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Communion Meltdown?

“We’re at church and Maggie is having a meltdown.  We just got a full page of single-spaced instructions on how to take communion here.  She’s sure she’s gonna make a mistake and wreck everything.” 

I got this text with the accompanying picture from our daughter Katy who was visiting a new church with Maggie in D.C. where they are living together.”

Then last week we were visiting them, and arrived right after their second visit to this church.  Communion is served every week and again, they were full of energy recounting their communion experience.

With great animation and hand gestures they said,                                                 Everyone has to walk down to the front of the sanctuary, following the diagram and then it’s like a communion smorgasbord with 89,000 choices you have to make!

On the fly! 

In front of PEOPLE

While thinking about JESUS!

Drink or dip, wine or juice, gluten free wafer or bread

With all these choices, Katy mistakenly ate her bread before dipping, then drank from cup she thought was wine but was grape juice.  Communion fail.

How can anyone reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s abundant grace when they’re worrying about DOING the wrong thing to celebrate it?

According to Maggie, “You’ve really gotta work for communion at this place!”  Ironic isn’t it?  Work to receive grace?

A friend of hers suggested she might want to do a couple of practice run-throughs before she came back again.

We were laughing at this experience, but I couldn’t help think of a friend of mine who had been in line to take communion once and watched as the girl in front of her systematically plucked piece after piece of the cut squares of bread off the serving plate and stacked them on top of each other in her hand.

My friend thought, “She can’t do that!  You’re only supposed to take ONE!  That’s not the way it’s done! Where are the communion police when you need them??”

Then it was like the Lord tapped her on the shoulder and said “This is what it’s all about – lavish grace without limit.  Offered at great cost, but free for the taking.”

We’re all beggars in need of bread, but perhaps this woman had a deeper sense of how desperately she depended on Jesus’ forgiveness.

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about our awareness of our own sinfulness and need for grace, whether we follow the directions for taking communion right or not.

Have you ever stressed over taking communion?  Is communion conducive to paying attention to God’s work in your life?                                                                                      Have you ever made a “mistake” taking communion?