I cried as I took communion at my church today. I reflected on why it was that I had such an emotional response and I figured out it was because of an image our pastor showed.
He, for the first time, looked at the Facebook reviews for our church, and copy pasted each review to a website that creates word cloud images based on the text you put into their engine. After all the reviews were put into the engine, this image was the result:
Obviously, you would expect God to be one of the bigger words, but it wasn’t the biggest. Instead, it was love. It highlighted the reason I became a partner at Sycamore Creek Church, after years of feeling outright disgust over the idea of Christianity, of viewing Christians themselves as lying, hateful souls. I couldn’t overlook, and still don’t, the terrible things that are done in the name of God.
This place, though, is filled with people from all walks of life. We have children running from the sanctuary to join our youth program. We have young adults, we have older adults. We have all sorts. We’re all here because of love. That one big word in the middle of “God” and “Welcome”.
I know this post is more steeped in God than usual. That’s probably because I’m typing it while I’m listening, for the second time today, to this message of why churches exist. Why these “convenantal missional communities” exist. Our church’s mission is “to ignite authentic life in Christ and fan it into an all-consuming flame”. It’s something I memorized when I became a partner. It was the sentence that surged through my mind as my body surged through the surface of the lake I was baptized in the day of my 25th birthday.
But the biggest reason we’re all here is because of love. Because we love our community and each other. We love the new faces that walk in, full of doubt and anxiety. We love the familiar faces that warmly smile when we see one another. Our community extends, as it should, beyond the walls. Our community is the somewhat broken city of Lansing. Our roads are terrible, there’s a street just a few blocks away that has a rather infamous reputation for being one of the most dangerous spots in the city. There are smoke shops and liquor stores on just about every single corner. We’re right here, though. We give people free gas, pay for their laundry. We paint local schools and garden in our communal dirt. We beg for time, not for money. We ask for love, not blind faith.
So I fill my bucket here. Sometimes, its here at the church. Sometimes, its in a popular pub in my hometown. Sometimes, it’s in a laundromat or a grill, as it will be over Easter.
No matter where it is, though, I leave feeling better than I walked in.