This past Sunday where I worship, an incredible moment struck me. A man got up on stage and invited the congregation to volunteer for Night to Shine (that our congregation is hosting next week). Then, the song leader got up and the entire congregation sang “Light The Fire”.
Alright, so this probably doesn’t sound like the incredible moment you were expecting, am I right? But bear with me and allow me to take you back in time so you know where I’m coming from.
There was a place (actually several, but for intensive purposes we’ll say it was one place). It was where I grew up going to church. The sign in the lawn said So-and-so church of Christ. And the people who went to So-and-so church of Christ were the only ones going to heaven.
Yeah, we were the only ones going to heaven. Sorry if you live too far away to worship with us, but you’re going to hell.
What the crap?
Yeah, totally. We were thatchurch.
We were also known around town as the church that didn’t have music. And, by that, people meant we didn’t worship with instruments. In fact, if you so much as brought an instrument onto the church property, you were going to hell (even if it was carefully hidden in your trunk beneath a pile of blankets- God is omniscient, you sinner). And if you dance to music with instruments, you’re going to hell. And if you dance to music without instruments… you’re also going to hell.
Oh, and we were also the church that was KJV-only. All other translations are heretical. And, by the way, so was the Holy Spirit.
*Doh! I said it out loud! Now, I’m going to hell!*
And we certainly didn’t sing songs that talk about the you-know-what. Especially the second verse to “Light The Fire”. Because the you-know-what only applied to Christians in the first century who a) directly came into contact with Jesus or who b) came into contact with someone who came into contact with Jesus. The you-know-what died a long time ago… and so did we for that matter.
So, as you can see, the place where I grew up going to church was strict. And by strict, I mean totally wrong.
So. So. Wrong. About. So. Many. Things.
So, that’s why when that guy got up this past Sunday morning in front of the congregation where I worship now and he invited us all to volunteer for Night to Shine next week and dance- to instrumental music- and laugh and be joyful and have a great time, it was an incredible moment. And it was a doubly incredible moment when we sang the second verse of “Light The Fire” that refers to the…
Now, I don’t want this to come across as an old-school Church of Christ bashing. It’s not.
What it is is a praising of God for sending me to such a God-loving, joyful, giving, Spirit-filled, hopeful group of believers. I am blessed, blessed *happy sigh, deep breath of pure elation to soak it all in* blessed to be a part of this congregation. Through them, God has nourished my starving, emaciated soul. He has cast a light into deep, dark places inside me. He has burned away filth in the trash heaps of my mind and blown away chaff from the mountain tops of my pride. I am eternally grateful to God for giving me these people- and eternally grateful to them for being who God has called them to be.
Around town, people know us as the church that hosts Night to Shine (a prom-like event for people with special needs) and as the church that feeds homeless people at Hope Park and as the church that has the resource closet for foster families and as the church that hands out clothing and household items at The Hope Chest and as the church that… you get my point. We’re not perfect- we get a lot of stuff wrong, too- but we love God and that’s how the people around town know us. By our love- God’s love.