Posted tagged ‘intimacy’

What I Like About Church

March 18, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         March 18, 2019

                                 

I admit that it’s ingrained in me. Sunday mornings have always meant one word: Church! And since our family attended Central Baptist Church in Winchester, Kentucky, it meant Sunday morning and Sunday evening. 

I was always a bit jealous of the kids at the Methodist church across the street from Central Baptist. They didn’t have Sunday evening services and, therefore, got to stay home and watch “Walt Disney” on TV. For my two siblings and me, our exposure to Walt Disney had to happen at Leed’s Theatre in downtown Winchester. That’s where we discovered “Old Yeller” and “Big Red”, not on TV!

But I liked church! It was like a warm blanket on a blizzard night. It felt good and right. 

And now 55 years since Central Baptist, and a career as an American Baptist pastor, I still feel right when I sit in a pew, or a sanctuary chair. It makes me wonder though…why? It’s got to be more than just the mark made by a family tradition. Why do I think about being a part of a worship service when Sunday morning rolls around?

I could get all spiritual on you and say right away that it’s because of the grace of God for such a sinner as me, and the forgiveness of Christ exacted by the shedding of his blood…and that’s true! The foundation for being a life-long church participant IS rooted in the gospel of Christ, but that’s not what gets me out of bed on Sunday morning.

It’s not the lure of donuts and Danish’s either, or weak coffee brewed by someone who’s taste was destroyed by drinking watered-down Maxwell House.

I like church because of the intimacy and the memories of intimacy. Not the youth group hay rides we used to go on…not that kind of intimacy, although the memories of them still bring a smile to my face!

The intimacy I’m thinking of was being able to lean up against my mom or dad’s arm and know that neither or them was going anywhere for the next hour or so. There was a closeness to family in those moments. 

A few weeks ago a picture popped up on my Facebook page from seven years ago. It was from Christmas Day, 2011. I stood in the aisle of the sanctuary with a dear man named Rex Davis. I had my arm around his shoulders and he had his arm around my waist. Rex was around 90 at the time. I like church because of moments like that, when the bond of Christ draws us together in an embrace of deep love and connected humanity. 

I like church because of the moments of revelation. Once again, I need to clarify about that term, because it’s been associated with suspect snake oil salesmen. For me, the moments of revelation come as I sit in silence and ponder, or as a scripture verse is read for the umpteenth time, or as I gaze at a stained glass window. Things get revealed to me about myself, or about the One I’m encountering. I live in a world that is so noisy I’m blasted with false revelations every day. I’m told my life needs certain things- products and services and such. Snake oil now comes in a variety of cultural flavors. In church, true revelation is hinted at if I desire to follow its path.

I like the hope of church and the hope experienced in church. Weary souls stumble through the doors and then a short while later leave rested and reassured. The hurting share their wounds and are carried back to healing. The lonely and broken-hearted are able to be embraced and held in place. A world of trouble is put into perspective by the message of the God who draws near.

I don’t go to church to be impressed by the perfection of the pastor, or the performance of the participants. There’s something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth- like sweet cream gone bad- when church tries to outdo the other places of worship in the same zip code, something fake and foreign to my senses.

And so I go each Sunday, ready to receive and willing to give. I’ve long since stopped using my mom and dad’s arms as a pillow for my head, but I still have others who I know I can lean on, if and when I need them!

Jesus Coffee: Part 5

July 15, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 15, 2016

                                

I waited for an explanation. Jesus looked at me and then he said, “Everyone is wrong at one time or another. There is a difference between being wrong about a decision, or even an action, and being wrongly evil.”

“Explain a little bit more for me.”

“When you said those words to your wife that were insensitive and hurtful you knew that at the core of your being that you were wrong. If you lied to someone that is a wrong that can be righted through confession and repentance.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming.”

“However-“

“Okay, cross me up with a however!”

“However…there is an evil that needs to be identified for what it is. There is a wrong that needs to be called for what it is…pure evil.”

“Like?”

“Racism is pure evil.”
“So a racist is someone who is pure evil.”

“No…a racist who is COMPLETELY close-minded is pure evil. Someone who is a racist but can be brought to a point where he or she recognizes the wrong of their position is different.”

“And when you encounter that what do you do? Throw some holy water on the person, hold the cross in front of you and say “Be gone, Satan!”?

“You recognize evil for what it is, and the wrongness that it brings to the world. There are some people who have sold out to the Deceiver. I wish there was a nice way to put it, but there isn’t.”

“Here’s a hard question then. If I have a longing to be loved at the core of my being what’s to keep me from yielding to the wrongly evil in order to be loved?”

“Great question! You must remember who the Lover of your soul is. The Deceiver is the lust-er of your soul. Your Father God is the Lover of your soul. Intimacy with the Lover of your soul is the greatest protection against the lust-er of your soul. Distance from the Lover raises your vulnerability to being swayed by the lust-er.”

“That sounds like a delicate balance.”

“It can be if you allow it.”

Our time was ending. The temperature of my second cup of coffee had dropped to lukewarm.

“You need to go, Bill?” Jesus asked.

“Yes, it’s time to get on with the business of the day. There’s that word again…business…busyness.”

“Be safe. Let me know when you want to share a cup of Joe together again. You know I’m always available.”

“Yes, Lord!” I got up from my seat and said to him, “You know I love you, don’t you?”

“Yes! I know…and I will always love you even when…you forget!”