This week’s spiritual discipline is unity. This blog is taken from the book Pause With Jesus.
Imagine a church not crafted just for one nationality, one age group, one language. A place not including just one musical style, one preaching style, one liturgical style. A place not ruled by one design, one visionary leader, one trend.
But a place welcoming many skin colors, languages, and styles. A place not labeling itself as the church, but letting people know that it’s just a building to offer everybody everywhere a place to call home and be healed so they can be sent out to bring others into the Pause with Jesus lifestyle. A family and a place aiming to welcome people with Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, autism, hard of hearing, hard to remember, spinal bifida, depression, bipolar, traumatic brain injuries, blind, addictions, anxiety, personality disorder, sleep disorder, eating disorder, and other hidden weaknesses that often keep people distant from churches. A place choosing to give up the loud noises which damage our ears, to use sign language for those who cannot hear, to build chairs which are comfortable and movable—out of the way for groups to gather and out of the way to make room for wheelchairs. A place of regular communion—traditionally and creatively helping us remember the cost to enter. A place of art, music, drama, silence, reverence. A place of learning to read, learning to learn, learning to be forgiven, learning to be set free from addictions. A place grasping church history deeper than the life of one demonization or trend or culture, but a larger tribe declaring ancient prayers and honoring historical readings and hearing from leaders whose voices are distant in time but so near in spirit.
And more than a place. People. A family. People of many languages and many ages and many backgrounds. People who think and live this way: inclusive people, inclusive God, inclusive thinking, inclusive ministry, inclusive language, inclusive church life, inclusive buildings.
A place and a family which has decided to think and live this way: including people with learning disabilities, including people with autism, including people with sight loss, including people with hearing loss, including people with mobility difficulty, including people with mental health conditions, including families with children who have additional needs.
Do you hear the noise?
Where the individual who processes slowly isn’t ignored or fired for their lack of leadership skills. Where the individual who hasn’t ever been free from an addiction is loved so much that they take a few steps they’ve never been willing to take before. Where the person unable to drive because of epilepsy sees a line of volunteers ready to drive her home. Where the person unable to bathe on his own because of multiple health issues sees a line of volunteers ready to make him clean. Where the visionary team sees more than goals to reach but people to love. Where the stage no longer includes the trendy and expensive lighting because the family finally realizes the danger to family members with brain injuries. Where offerings are not only taken but given away. Where the young man with Down syndrome is allowed to lead the congregation in a song he can’t sing the way approved vocalists would sing it. Where the pastor loves the parishioners and the stories and the people who don’t like him at all. Where the pastor’s wife doesn’t feel a need to perform, but to love and be loved just as she is. Where the scholarly attendee decides to not analyze a simple sermon but realizes the words were just what he needed. Where the uneducated attendee senses a new inspiration to dive deep into study and research as ways of spending time with Jesus. Where preachers of two different theological circles choose to go to the same restaurant after the service ends and, instead of debating, take food to serve a homeless man together. Where politicians of opposing parties find a better way to party together, refusing to let differences of opinions and policies rob them of being a family of a Father, a Son, and a Spirit. Where people are welcomed and accepted, mentored and guided, taught and heard, forgiven and dared to dream again.
Jesus seems to enjoy that church.
Don’t you see Him there?
Can you see yourself there?