I was sitting in our evening service last night enjoying some time and space with the Father. It was a beautiful, peaceful service. Our worship team led us with space and gentleness, the communion table was set, ready for us to share the bread and wine together, the teaching was a thoughtfully structured look around the encounter and engagement we require with a God who loves us. It was a lovely space and one enjoyed by many.
In the midst of this I couldn’t help but think back to our two morning services. They had been far from the peaceful, reflective scene I have just described.
In the morning we held our family services; all ages were in the room. Worship was full and fun, many kids were at the front jumping up and down, a few kids were doing laps on the stage threatening to trip over the various leads and worship team themselves. We had break dancing competitions, rapping from the stage and the teaching started with a story about a sewage tank and how God loves us even though we are covered with “pees and poos.”
You could have been forgiven for thinking that these weren’t just two different services but two different churches.
The thing is; God was equally present in both. He was worshipped in the stillness and He was worshipped in the rap battle, we heard of His nature through eloquent words and through toilet related puns, we honoured Him as we met around the table of communion and the table where the kids were taking as many donuts as possible.
I love that as the church we can have that variety, that difference and that choice. The chaos and the covenant. I’m sure yesterday many people will have chosen a service to miss because of their expectation of what would have occurred at each. Some will have really connected with God during the bouncing up and down and some will have connected with Him in the stillness. I, like anyone, would have my preference too.
However, as the church family, I wonder if we only turn up where our choice leads us, if we’re missing out on something? Is there something about the variety and vastness of God that we are limiting? The variety is great but God is not a God that we get to pick and choose with; we don’t get the opportunity to live out the bits we like and leave the stuff we don’t. As His church family we embrace it all.
We get this when it comes to our biological families. Each of our families have gatherings, occasions, outings and moments throughout the year. Some of them we love and some we tolerate. The thing is, barring illness, we have to show up to them all and take part whether it is our choice or not. Many times we find enjoyment in the moments we didn’t think we would and often it turned out exactly as we had predicted. However, when the next occasion happens we turn up again. Why? Because the love for our family goes beyond the choice of our comfort.
Surely, this must be the same for us as the church. We can’t pick and choose a life based around our desires alone. As the church we must embrace the chaos, the fullness, and the quiet reflection. We must show up to the parts that don’t suit us as well as the parts that do. We must worship Him through the songs we love and the songs we don’t. We must engage with the teaching that is tailored to us and the teaching that isn’t. We must support and love all of the variety and wonder that God has chosen His church to carry. Through that we will get to experience so much more of what He has for us.
Our God speaks in the wildness and the whisper, the storm and the silence. We meet with Him through the covenant and the chaos, the sacrament and the stage invasion.