The stories of grace that are told are always moving.
The drama of redemption, the messiness of sin, the beauty of Christ and the mysterious interplay of it all is a surprising joy that never grows old.
Telling these stories among ourselves is central to who we are.
Living into and then out of these stories is what we are all about.
I am reading Eugene Peterson's book, The Pastor: A Memoir.
I am currently in the section where he talks about the founding years of Christ our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland (an hour or so drive from where I live).
I have to admit to a sustained chuckle when Peterson says he imagined/anticipated his first church as being "a congregation of Green Berets for Jesus. No half-Christians, no almost Christians, but the real thing" (pp. 105)!
About twenty pages later he describes what the church actually turned out to be. Here is how Peterson describes his church:
Lepers and blind and deaf-and-dumb sinners.
Also fresh converts, excited to be in on this new life. Spirited young people, energetic and eager to be guided into a life of love and compassion, mission and evangelism.
A few seasoned saints who know how to pray and listen and endure.
And a considerable number of people who pretty much just showed up. I sometimes wonder why they bothered.
There they are: the hot, the cold, and the lukewarm; Christians, half-Christians, almost-Christians; New Agers, angry ex-catholics, sweet new converts. I didn't choose them. I didn't get to choose them" (pp. 128).
I smile because I know Peterson is describing our church. This is who we are, by God's grace.
I'll finish this post with one of my favorite Biblical texts. I hope you see yourself described in both Peterson's words and in the text that follows from the Apostle Paul:
not many were influential;
not many were of noble birth.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
As we go to our places of worship this Sunday, whether they are grand and glorious or simple and plain, may we rejoice in what God has done for us, pay attention to His Story that is being told, and let our stories speak forth into the lives of others.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International