My Secondhand Story Of Church

I will end with a funny story. So hang in there.

It was very early Sunday morning and I was up reading scripture for many hours . I was reading in the ESV translation (I use four different ones regularly ) I came to a verse in Ephesians that I am familiar with. I read it in the ESV and then flipped over to the Message Paraphrase Translation. It stood out to me. Here are the two comparisons.

“….. so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Eph 3:10 ESV

“Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” Ephesians 3:10 (MSG)

Everyone has opinions about church; are they good or bad, worth my time or not, and which is the best, most right, and most true. I am not wading through that today.

As you know I haven’t attended traditional church much in the last decade (To traditional church people that is equal to no church at all).

Anyway, I have great respect for the gathering of believers. It is good, necessary, and healthy. So after reading, through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities.” and knowing that I did not have people to meet with this Sunday to share the Ordinance of Communion, I got up and went to the church I grew up in. It has been a long time since I have been there for church. But I do stop in every three years or so.

Gathering communicates something. Gathering is not the mission, but gathering is what supports the mission.

  • There was a familiarity about it all that was comfortable. The sounds of certain voices and how certain songs were sung triggered memories, almost as if I had never been gone.
  • An elderly lady who taught me, and also my children Sunday School, was still leading the Sunday school opening. The familiarity of her voice was still in my mind after these years.
  • My uncle on my mother’s side was presiding at the Communion table, and led us in Communion Prayer.
  • My two uncles on my father’s side, were communion servers, one on the right, the other on the left.
  • I sat in a pew where my dad sat.
  • My first cousin and his wife were sitting a few pews ahead.
  • Another first cousin was playing the piano.
  • My long time college friend from New Brunswick, a life long ministry friend, was speaking from the Word, and led our Communion service.

This is what you have in small rural churches. A lot of family and a lot of familiarity. One should never poke fun at that, it is how the church goes, grows, and moves- through family and relational lines.

I was there because, “Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known…..”

Don’t ask me why God does this through Christians in a gathered church.

There are people who hate and despise the gathered church. There are certain political, government, and philosophical ideologies that despise the gathered church sharing God’s wisdom. Socialism, Communism, pluralism, secular humanism, post modernity are among them. Why?
“Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities.” I understand that it says to rulers and authorities in “heavenly realms.” But also earthy realms as well, for I believe that all ideologies do have spiritual ramifications and aspects to them.

We gather and the manifold wisdom of God is made known to rulers. Justin Trudeau and the more radical SJW are going to take away Christian Schools. Alberta is already asking Christian schools to remove references to “Truth” and the Bible as the word of God. They are making steps toward taking away churches’ charity status, it is just a matter for time. Justin Trudeau is refusing pro-life people from the Liberal Party because they morally object to tweezers or suction hoses pulling tiny babies out of wombs. Because we believe in the science of two sexes (But grant the freedom to live and dress as you wish), the goodness of family, and morality around sexual activity despite our desires.

They hate the gathered churches beliefs.

It makes no difference if the law of the land supports God’s wisdom or not. The church never needed the law of the land behind it to grow. History proves this out. Yet, the church also has much to answer for over their inhumane alliance with, and the use of, political power over the centuries.

So I went to gather in a traditional manner, with a traditional church, this week. Why? Because I did not have other out -of-the-box people to be with this week.

Here is the funny story. It does not matter if you are the worst rascal, as long as you are in church on Sunday, the church folks seem to be content. But if you don’t “Go to Church” (traditional one), you could read scriptures all day long, pray, love and disciple others, take communion to the sick- but if you are not at those kind of gatherings you are viewed as a lost sheep. I get it, they simply don’t know anything else as church. This is fine, I am not trying to convince anyone otherwise. I am not your leader, and do not wish to set myself up as so, so don’t follow me.

Shortly after I got home from “church”, I hilariously received a text message on my phone that was clearly meant for someone else. It was sent to me by accident. It was in ALL CAPS too.

“GUESS WHAT..ANDY BACK IN CHURCH… PRAISE GOD.”

No Joking!

So funny! I suppose I could have been insulted, but I laughed instead. I am deeply familiar with the thinking in all of the box churches. It is motivated by deep concern for my spiritual well-being. But man, church leaders write a lot of pejorative shit. Assigning thoughts, motives and selfishness to anyone who dares do it otherwise. If they only knew how much further away it drives people like me from them and their kind of churches, they would cool their jets a little. But in condemning this, they are really hoping to keep those already there in line by the threats of lostness and great spiritual depression sure to befall EVERYONE outside the box.

Talk about peoples need for Jesus, not about obligation to your local church vision, exclusive leadership, or program. Boys, we are part of the body of Christ at large too, not just your local church, so no one has to buy all that a local church is selling, unless you intend to make that a stipulation of attendance (some wackos do), so just back off a bit.

Freedom is a real aggravation to people trying to build something to their exact specifications.

I did get a sheepish reply about the text saying it was meant for someone else, and sorry. I replied in such a manner to make it clear I was not taking offense.

I was not “back in church” because I think it is the kind of gathering that works best for me. I was there because of a scripture I read, one verse among hundreds on this Sunday morning. The scripture can make me do a bunch of things, because I know it is true, even when it is not what I prefer – because what I prefer is not the point.

There is something much larger on the move than our trivial preferences. My preferences has nothing to do with why I am not in traditional church anyway. I sat in church for thirty years with my preferences not attended to. And I never once asked that they be attended to. Because that is not what church is about. The immature argue over such trivial things. I’ve got more important things to do, and better conversations to have than about what happens at a worship service on Sunday. (What you sing, style of songs, instruments used, how you organize the service, or the preaching style,or what programs you run etc, simply don’t matter to me. I can get good out of any context or style. My service and worship is not centered on a Sunday event.)

“Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” Ephesians 3:10 (MSG)

Is Andy “back in Church?” Not really! But I was there on this Sunday.

Sorry if I got your hopes up because next week I’ll certainly be back to a simple expression with a few people somewhere.

I often hesitate to showing up at traditional churches near by because it gets peoples hopes up that I might be “coming back”, or “coming there”. I will disappoint them. I take no joy in disappointing people. I seem to do that often enough.

However, my wife reminded me this week, as we discussed whether we “Should” (an excellent guilt and obligation word) do something.

“Should?”, she said. “Should? Andy, we are free and fifty one years old.”

I read this verse Sunday morning as well. It seems many think it applies to me. 😉

“Many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.”” David. Psalms 3:2 (ESV)

“For some reason, it is easier to attend church services than quite simply to reverence the real – “the practice of the presence of God,” as some have called it. Making this commitment doesn’t demand a lot of dogmatic wrangling or managerial support, just vigilance, desire, and willingness to begin again and again.”

– Richard Rohr. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

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