Looking back

baby i’ve been here before
i’ve seen this room and i’ve walked this floor
i used to live alone before i knew you
i’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
but love is not a victory march
it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

There’s no fanfare in the familiar.
No comfort in common ground.
Only the feeling that everything we do…
Every song that we sing,
Every sermon we hear,
Every “gathering” we attend…
Brings us further and further from where we should be.
God grant me grace tonight to hear your voice
To look for a whisper in a wind storm
That I might find You
And walk in your ways.

6 months later, still in the same place.
Sitting in an empty room.
Wondering why we do “church”.
Who is this really about?
As much as we want  to say it’s all for Him.
I’m pretty sure we’ve realized,
this is all about us.
Maybe that’s why nobody seems to care much anymore.
Maybe that’s why in a few hours,
we’ll screw on plastic smiles
we’ll silently ask forgiveness
and we’ll stat the “show” all over again.
Meanwhile, we’re all dying inside.
Facing struggles
pain
hurt
disappointment
failure
the pain of relationships gone bad
the uncertainty of  the future
the grief and sorrow of loss
the struggle of addiction
and our frail humanity.
We are screaming for someone to notice.
But these things have no place here.
In our service to a perfect God,
we feign perfection
thinking that He demands this of us.
As father Adam before us
we hide.
Hiding from the One who can make us whole again.
Hiding from each other.
Calling ourselves a body,
and looking like a box full of doll parts.
Is it selfish to pray,
to hope that tonight could be different?
That tonight we could turn things around?
That tonight we might somehow break through?
That we would be real?
Honest?
That we would love one another?
That we would hear His voice?
That I would hear His voice?
That we might seek the one thing that truly matters?

Lord, come quickly.

It’s been over a year since I wrote these words.  It pains me to realize that we never did break through to one another.  We never did get real and face the pain.  We kept smiling, kept singing and slowly but surely we kept dying.   No matter how many par cans you have, no matter how many candles you light, no matter how loud the guitars are, no matter how many curve balls you throw- if you don’t have love you have nothing.

Lots of people from our gathering might disagree with my assessment.  They might say that we served a purpose.  They would argue that we met needs or filled a void.  Some would say that we were the future.  Many would say that I’m just too much of a pessimist.  But I’m convinced that services don’t fill voids or meet needs.  Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever fills voids and meets needs.  I’m even more convinced that until we reorder our churches and lives around that idea, we’ll continue to wander through the desert.  Until we stop falling in love with our ministries and start falling in love with our savior,  we’ll keep starting services and generating buzz and gathering crowds while we ultimately fail to make any real difference in each others lives.

May we walk in grace and peace as we learn to truly love one another and in the process, learn to really be the body of Christ.

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