The past few months have been a unique season of life for me. I cannot recall a time in my life where I haven’t habitually attended a church service every Sunday, but since I left Fellowship Memphis I’ve spent as many Sundays outside of a “church” as i have inside of one. It has been a learning experience, and it has fueled the fire to better understand just what Church is.
Yesterday’s lesson came in a realization. Of all the aspects of a church service, it isn’t the preaching I miss. It isn’t the music I miss. It isn’t the times of prayer I miss. It’s the people I miss. It’s the family of believers. Now, don’t get me wrong. Preaching, musical worship and prayer are important things, but they are things I experience every day. God is always with me, even in those times when I’m unaware. That vertical relationship is always present. The horizontal experience of God in the friendships of others, however, is not. There is something amazingly powerful in the sharing of the experience of God.
I felt it deeply in a short ten minute stretch of worship at Tennessee Mass Choir rehearsal, including the hugs shared afterwards that were so affirming. I felt it yesterday in a house church gathering, once again in song, but also in the energy coming from a simple gift given me by a friend there. I arrived tired, but in his interest in my passions I was energized. The discussion would not have seemed all that holy. We talked about board games and writing, but it was empowering and affirming. Later conversations, after what you might call a service, revolved around mission and God’s design for community – how it’s being carried out by other believers around us and how we hope to carry it out ourselves. Once again I felt encouraged and excited. It reminded me that I am not alone here. That reminder is an amazing gift!
So I am thankful today. Thankful that I am not alone. Thankful that God has surrounded me with an amazing and extremely diverse group of people. People I can call family.