This is a picture of my newly renovated home...NOT! This is another view of the church in Ste-Marthe which is just beautiful from so many angles.
Well, patching and painting is still an ongoing project at my house and I am getting tired of it ( I hate sanding and I suck at plastering) as you can tell, so let's talk about something more interesting.
Wednesday night we had a homeless home group. The home where we usually meet was not available, so we hung out downtown. God has been challenging me to let go of my expectations of what church looks like and what constitutes a healthy and growing group of people who follow God. One of the things I don't like about what we do is that we hole ourselves up in a room and do all our spiritual exercises behind closed doors as if they were a secret. It is a comfortable yet not altogether healthy way of thinking. In the progressive revelation of the character and nature of God and his interaction with human beings (that would be the Bible), we see first of all in the Old Testament a central location, the temple, a relatively closed and restricted place where people came to meet with God. In the New Testament, Jesus took this model and interpreted it in a new way: he told us the temple was in fact US. We carry the presence of God. Most of what Jesus did was totally outside of the temple walls. You could find him encountering people in their everyday lives, at work and at home.
Too much of what I see today in the church still has the Old Testament mentality (don't get me wrong, the temple carries incredible imagery of the holiness and nature of God, but we are not to rebuild it or to model our church structure after it). Jesus clearly demonstrated that we are no longer a"behind closed doors" people. To develop wonderful programs and advertise and expect people to be drawn into our building and our meetings is just missing the whole point of the revolutionary ideas Jesus brought, I think.
So anyway, this week we did what we always do, but in different locations. We wandered through the arcade and worshipped - watching and listening for the character and voice of God in our surroundings and pointing them out to each other. Even the mall music seemed to be the best worship set I had heard in awhile! We went to Mcdonalds and read a story from the Bible and discussed it over some french fries amidst noisy families and teenagers. We sat in the subway walkway and sang and prayed for each other. We actually got evicted (no loitering allowed there, I guess) by a gracious security guard so we continued to pray (laying hands on people and talking and making gestures as we usually do) as we walked though the underground passageways. I expected to be distracted and uncomfortable, but instead, I felt the very real presence and desire of God to meet with us wherever we are and his delight at being invited into the middle of everyday life.