Faith Is a Risky Business.

WOW!!!!
WOW!!!!

Our granddaughter scampered up trees like a squirrel when she was about ten. She appeared to have no fear. As she flitted from one limb to the next, she’d call to me. “Come, join me Grandma. I can see a beautiful horse running free in a whole field of wild flowers. The creek looks like a snake crawling down the side of the hill.”

Afraid of heights, I answered, “No thank you.” I remember wishing she had just a wee dab of healthy fear.

When we have been part of a church family all our lives, we are comfortable. Like my granddaughter, we lose touch with the “risk”. We’ve experienced the caring support of our church family. We know the congregation and have participated in most of the activities. We’d like everyone to be part of such a wonderful group

We forget that just stepping into the church building can be frightening, risky. We forget that some have had difficult past experiences with the church that make coming to worship feel like climbing a cliff. We forget there are those with no church experience. They’ve heard that church membership requires commitment, time and money. Their question is, “Why would I take that risk?”

Church membership is a risky business for sure, and… well worth the risk. As members, we need to take our cue from my granddaughter’s attitude to tree climbing. We need to issue a passionate happy invitation. “Come join us. This is fun. There is support, comfort, friendship here. You’ll love the music. There’s a special place for you because you are God’s beloved child. Here, you’ll learn that the gift of God’s forgiveness is free. Here, you’ll experience acceptance. Here, you’ll be challenged to think for yourself. Here, you can discuss and learn and grow in faith. Come, join us, church membership is great. Take the risk.”

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”  (Acts 2:44-47)

 

 

What Can a Small Group Do For You?

This group a little younger than some of us, but we're just as lovely.
This group a little younger than some of us, but we’re just as lovely.

Every month, I gather with friends for our book club meeting. Although we saw each other often at church, we formed this group because we wanted a stronger, deeper relationship than a few minutes over coffee on Sunday mornings could give us. Besides, I was retiring and would be leaving the church family.

Our monthly meetings are cherished by each one of us. Yes, we dutifully choose a book each time. Most of us read it. Sometimes we discuss it for five minutes, sometimes half an hour. The book discussion isn’t really our reason for gathering.

We come together in friendship seeking love, laughter and support for our tears. Family problems, aging parents, celebrations are all on the menu each month. We have built a precious community, as we share food and life.

In today’s world we have to be intentional about developing community. The extended family that once gathered round is usually separated by distance. City living can bring anonymity. Even country dwellers tend to be isolated from their neighbours.

We have Facebook friends, but for me a few words printed on my computer or phone screen is not enough. I need to voice my concerns and joys. I need to see my feelings mirrored in another’s eyes as I speak. I need to feel the human touch of comfort and joy as we give each other hugs. Our precious book club brings God’s new life for me.

I suggest you try setting up your own group. We started small – just three. Now, six years later, we’re seven, a perfect size. You don’t have to be all the same. In our group, some are mothers, some grandmothers, some single, some married, some working, some retired. Faith, and love of reading, good food and laughter are our common ground. Build an intentional community for yourself. As you trust and share, your life will be touched by God’s love.

Jesus said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

 

 

Does God Have a Sense of Humor?

Does God have a sense of humour? The Bible tells the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. ( Exodus 16). They ran out of food. They asked God for a miracle. God sent manna. Manna was not what the Israelites had in mind to solve their hunger crisis. It didn’t look like food, although it did taste sort of sweet. You couldn’t use it for trade or for wealth. Why? It had a short expiration date. It went rancid on the second day and couldn’t be eaten.

Manna was a powerful illustration of God’s wonderful sense of humor. I can imagine God saying, “Here’s the miracle you asked for. Now learn the lesson in co-operation and sharing that comes with it.” God does answer prayers, but seldom in the way we expect.

Twelve years after my divorce, I asked God for a companion to grow old with me. In a book I was reading, one of the characters prayed, “God, I need a parade of men, so I can choose a mate wisely.” I laughed at the idea. At fifty plus, I knew there would never be a parade of men for me. Not long after I finished that book, a friend suggested, “Try one of the date matching sites on line.”

My first reaction, “Oh no, not safe. Bad idea.”

“Give it a try,” my friend suggested, “Just be careful.”

I went on line and, to my delight, I discovered God was offering me a parade of men. At the time, I called it “window shopping.” I applied all the cautions everyone suggested and sampled a few. The end result, of course, is my Tom, the love of my life. In June, we’ll have been married thirteen wonderful years. As usual, God answered my prayer, not as I expected and not without some effort from me. Yes, God answered my prayer with, I’m sure, a twinkle in God’s eye.