After two weekend church gatherings, I'm always amazed at how God surprises us. There is no way to ever predict what He will do as we gather to focus on Him, let Him have His way, and simply worship. The one essential that we seem to bring, other than hearts seeking, is the willingness to not know: to just let Him be God in our midst and not try to fit Him in to an agenda or plan.
We use structures-of-sorts at various points, mostly so that humans will avoid the temptation of taking control of the gathering. But we want to come with hearts not-knowing so that we make room for the Mysterious God to reveal Himself.
Saturday night, He showed up as a ministering angel to a young woman who recently lost a brother to suicide. She had never gathered with us before, but how privileged we were to be able to be "one another" type believers and simply be there with her. And how awesome to see God just bring what seemed to be the right words, songs, and prayers to really touch the deep pain this woman is carrying. No plan. Just come, Jesus, and be with all of us. We didn't know what He would do, but He just seemed to bring such a sweet spirit of comfort and closeness: we felt close to Him, to this woman and her pain, and to each other.
Then, He showed up powerfully through this woman as she spoke to us and shared her new awareness of how important the people in her life are, particularly those right in front of her. The ones that are so easy to take for granted. She spoke of not wanting to waste any more time doing superficial relationships! It's just too important that we connect, really connect, with the people in our life! Her authenticity and pain caused all of us to reflect on how we are relating to our own friends, family, and others. God was speaking to all of us!
Fast forward to this morning... another church... another gathering of people "not knowing" what God would do. Many wonderful things took place, but I was especially impressed at how He led the group into an awareness of Christ as Burden-bearer. We each began to express the specific burdens that we were carrying: fears, worries, concerns, people, problems... and then as we shared them with each other we were empowered to let them go and allow Him to carry them. Very freeing. We left lighter than we came!
I love it! Church in which the Kingdom of God intersects people where they are living their lives. Isn't that the Good News? The Kingdom is near, now, here, and God is actively at work in and amongst us in love and in power.