We went to church yesterday, a bit of an unusual experience these days. The simple truth is that organised building-based worship simply doesn't connect for me at the moment. Maybe it's because of everything we've been through, maybe it's because of the movement that has been stirring in my soul for such a long time now, and maybe it's just because I'm so spiritually disconnected that being "in church" is just not where I want to be right now. Who knows. I'm not so arrogant to think that the problem is fully on the shoulders of the pattern of worship we've come to expect.
Anyway, I was looking at Luke 9 while everyone else was enjoying their own deep and meaningful, intimate encounter with God. Not that mine wasn't deep, you understand. And it was verse 11 that caught my eye. The way Jesus welcomed the crowds, who only really followed him because of the miracles, but he welcomed them anyway and then took the time to talk to them about the kingdom. I wonder what he said? Then he healed them and fed them. Quite extraordinary really.
There's no point trying to make a priority list from these events, elsewhere in the NT you'll find a different order of things and some things missing that you might have thought important first time around. So just let it ask you questions and ask some back. Like how did Jesus welcome them and what would a welcome look like in our time, our communities? How do we let people know they are welcome, when they have to enter a strange building, sing strange songs, listen to strange stories? How do we intrigue them with our kingdom talk rather than scare them off?
Without getting hung up on miracles, what might "healing" look like in our contexts? What does it say about meeting needs, ministry to others, outsiders even?
So many questions raised from such a simple statement, but it's this kind of thing that has got me where I am. I ind myself constantly asking what difference is it going to make on Monday? If you've had a great encounter with God over the weekend in your worship event, then how are you carrying that inot the world around you?
Welcome the people into your schedule, talk about the kingdom (hopefully without the weird God stories of which we can be so fond), minister to their needs. Not a bad plan really.