Life Notes—November 15, 2012
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” John 13:34a
A few weeks ago I was in Washington State and went to a church with my sister and one of my brothers. The service was small, attended by about 25 people. The pews were couches and recliners, which made the two hour service much more palatable. The pastor, who bore a strong resemblance to Santa Claus, knew everyone in his congregation, and they knew him. But they knew more than each other’s names. They knew current and past struggles, family challenges, hopes and dreams, and they openly shared their fears and failures in front of their fellow congregants. The pastor called to each, by name, and addressed their specific issues. The announcements in this church were not about events happening in their worship community, but about Wes’ arthritis flaring again, and Jodie’s surgical recovery not progressing as hoped, and Esther’s cancer returning, and the birth of Ron and Marsha’s fifth grandchild. It was way beyond personal. It was downright intrusive, but in a loving and respectful way.
What I remember most about the service was what the pastor said as they entered a time of prayer for those not in attendance that morning. He said that while it was important to pray for the needs of those we do not know, it is even more important to pray for those we know and love. Prayers lifted up by those who know and love us are particularly powerful because they are the ones who know the particulars of our situations. We are better able to visualize the needs and focus our prayers in very direct ways when we have intimate knowledge of and a relationship with the one being prayed for.
In my church, we have a relatively large congregation that gathers for five different worship services in two different locations. Well over half of the members of our church I would not recognize if I saw them on the street, let alone know anything about their lives or life circumstances. While I can love them, unknowingly, as fellow members of my church family, I cannot love and pray for them with the specific and intimate types of prayer this small congregation offered to its flock. This is one reason we are encouraged to join smaller groups—classes, study groups, covenant groups and others—in order to form stronger and more intimate bonds. But many of our members remain a “worship service only” member of the church. And with that, they miss out on the knowing and being-known that comes with being an involved partner in a smaller community.
This Sunday is our annual one-church gathering, followed by Thanksgiving dinner. We will gather as one, large church family at the Douglas County Fairgrounds at 10:00 for worship. Bring a friend and bring an appetite. Remember, there will be no worship services at either campus this Sunday.
Come home to church this Sunday. See what a blessing intrusive love can be.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator