You know, a person can preach and teach over and over again for many years about what church is supposed to be like, how we’re supposed to act, how we’re supposed to think and behave with one another. One of my absolute favorite descriptions of “church” is in Romans 12: “In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
I brought that verse out during our orientation class Sunday morning. I spent a good amount of time telling our brand new members and several visitors how we expect to act as a church family: that we should belong. I belong to other people here, and they belong to me. I don’t live to myself or for myself; I’m part of something much bigger than that here. We live to and for and with one another here.
And I preach that and teach that all the time. We bear one another’s burdens. We rejoice and we mourn with one another. When one member hurts, we all hurt. Nobody in need. Defending one another. Loving each other. Considering the needs of one another more important than our own. Caring for one another as we care for ourselves. We work hard to attain to that ideal. It’s a lofty expectation. It’s difficult. But we try, right?
Now, what do you do when it actually happens?
It happened here yesterday. All day long. From the opening moments of the morning memorial service for 95-year-old Gerald Noyes to the last hugs and expressions of love shared in Sneed Hall following the afternoon service for 16-year-old Madison Knebusch.
I’m so grateful to be a part of this church family.
I’m so blessed to be working in the Kingdom with a shepherd like John Noyes who comes from such a long line of faithful men and who strives so hard to be true to our Lord. An open book of a man who wears his compassion for others on his sleeve and acts on it. Constantly.
I’m so glad to be working with Adam Gray who hit an absolute grand slam at Madison’s service. I’m so happy that my girls are in his youth group; that my daughters are being taught by this deep, reflective, deadly serious disciple of our Christ; that my girls are being shaped by his huge laugh and his even bigger heart.
I don’t have a big stake in her — not yet, there hasn’t been time; but I’m so proud of Morgan Donaway. So proud of her. The way she used her God-given voice, her divinely-ordained abilities, to bless others. The way she gave all of that to our Father yesterday and the way he used it to bless so many people. The great friend that she is. Wow.
I can’t believe the food and the gift cards, the phone calls and texts, the baby sitting and errands run, the flowers and hugs, the money and love that’s been showered by this church family on its own hurting members. I can’t believe the numbers of people who were here in the middle of a week day to sacrifice and serve others. I’ve been to Levi and Shannon’s house at least seven or eight times over the past week; and each time I’ve had to park farther away because of all the other cars. It’s indescribable.
I could have saved myself a lot of breath and the people in our orientation class a lot of time if I hadn’t tried to explain and describe what it means to belong to each other. I should have just encouraged these people to hang out in our building all day yesterday to see it in action. It really happens here. We really do belong to one another.
Yesterday was beautiful in so many ways. Inspirational. Moving. Wonderful. Gospel. It was perfect.
Now, I don’t want to do it again anytime soon. Maybe never. But it was perfect.
I’m so glad to be at Central.