So much of our church identity is centered on gathered worship. THE one date Christians most gather the world over is just a few days away. I’m feeling the “loss” resulting from living as we are. It’s Easter this Sunday, and we have no place to go.
Now, let me be clear, we have a home church. District Superintendents all do. Some are even the preacher. In our case, Judy and I have been welcomed by many…our Chinese fellowships scattered around the city and the peninsula; our Albany church, to name a few. Geography certainly plays a role. So does our calling. Given the fact that I’m used to being the guy on the platform, it all feels different no matter what. There are a few “good churches” outside our denomination here in SF that have welcomed us.
Our “home” is both literal and figurative. We will gather at the abode of our “missionaries,” Brent and Sarah Kompelien, in the Pacific Heights district of SF this Sunday evening, as we do each week, with a dozen very special people. This is our place. These are our people. But for an old guy like me, as you might imagine, there are some features of “church” that won’t be present, and that is highlighted on Easter Sunday somehow.
This opportunity has invited me to realize, and celebrate, more of the core values of “church” this year:
1. Resurrection Sunday, like any Sunday, is not about me.
2. My hope is not in easter-ish human ingenuity (a little bigger, a little louder), but in a silent, fan-fare-less, nearly unnoticed emptying of a tomb.
3. The wealth of my faith is accounted in loneliness on this earth…in this flesh…and that is an unspeakable privilege.
4. My faith’s apex may be celebrated this Sunday, but the gospel’s promise of life is rooted in a fully incarnational, crucified self, alive to my commission, its power resting in the finished work of my ascended Jesus.
5. Prayer is a lonely reminder that our best work is aligning ourselves with the power of a gospel that is bearing fruit in our world.
So, my singular prayer for all 50 of our district churches (by this, I mean each believer-priest that makes up your church) this Easter is this:
Father, set a profoundly quiet awareness of a deep and irresistible power at work in invisible places of the hearts of people visiting this Sunday, and those who would never visit. Haunt us with the faces of the perishing, and may their new life in You overwhelm the status quo of what we all now know as “church” in our context. In the name of the risen one, Jesus. Amen.