I love church. I love being church, community, the ecclesia. The church has caused me a lot of problems, but today I realized how much church is big part of who I am. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to feel love for the church in the way I felt it today. I have been critical of the church. Somedays the church is good and other days I wonder how I allowed myself to become a part of an institution that has preached hate and homophobia to the point where there have been times that I just want to walk away. But today, I saw a congregation hold each other as they discovered their church had gone up in flames.
Middle Collegiate Church (middlechurch.org) is a place where everyone is welcomed. It is a community of people who believe in God, don’t believe in God, straight, gay, all races and ethnicities, who stand and fight against the injustices in that ravage our nation. They are a group of people that every Sunday morning, I don’t know any of them, but at 11:45am I can’t wait to sit in front of my laptop to attend worship because they don’t know me, but it’s almost like they do. Their love is intentional. As I watched the service today and saw the congregation crying, singing, praying and still making sure that the community in which they sit is still provided with food and clothing for the homeless, holding on to each other, but still being a force and standing, speaking against those powers that keep the marginalized oppressed. As the building burned, so many of them spoke saying, “we are the church”, this is a building. In that building were memories of baptism, weddings, dancing and laughter and funerals of love ones. They grieved publicly, being human, being fully seen, being fully embraced by God. The most beautiful thing is that the world in which they gave themselves with their radical revolution way of love, responded with arms wide open, to receive this group of amazing people, because their radical revolutionary love planted a big heart in souls that had once been broken. I saw God today.
I fell in love with church again, because of a community that is showing me that revolutionary love works. I fell in love with church again today because I saw what church can be. For us pastors and preachers, for us lovers of the Gospel, for us lovers of God, I pray we will be intentional about loving people, not trying to change them so they can go to heaven, but instead love them so the world can see God. I’m so glad that Middle Collegiate Church reminds me that we are the ones God has been waiting for. Check them out on a Sunday morning. You will be so happy you did!