What does a snapshot of the church look like?
A few years ago, I received an invitation to a difficult task: to preside over the funeral of a young woman who who died after a struggle with substance addiction. I am an ordained pastor. This part of the job is never easy. It demands recognizing parts of our common humanity. There is no “romanticizing death away. It stings. Even Jesus wept.
What made this situation especially hard to sit with is that I knew her and her family. We navigated despairs, joys and epiphanies of God’s presence together.
As the day approached, I wondered what to say and how to bring hope while recognizing the sting. Somehow, God gave me the words to proclaim. However, the eclectic group packed in the small room fleshed them out. At first, the room stood still. But then life breathed into the silence. One by one, individuals told stories: of connection, redemption and struggles. And through them all, the beauty of image bearers emerged. Authentic community.
A reckoning is taking place concerning what God’s Kingdom really looks like. People are longing to see and be part of the community pictured here. One where facades fade, compassion reigns and discerning truth happens through a community of diverse voices. They are seeking snapshots.
In the book, Tattoos of the Heart, Gregory Boyle writes “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. ….Kinship-not serving the other but being with the other. Jesus was not a “man for others.”; he was one of them. There is a world of difference in that.”
The early church’s snapshots were so captivating that others wanted in. What are people seeing today?
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