The Love of the Church
This post is one in a series reflecting on my time with our last church that ultimately closed. You can read more context here.
The dominant narrative today is that the church is detrimental to society. At times this is true. That wasn’t my experience with our last church. Conversely, it was in this church where I experienced the beauty of the love and care that can exist among a group of people. Let me share a couple stories to illustrate.
In fourth grade my daughter developed a verbal tic. It was very noticeable–distracting for people around her and embarrassing for her. One week during our worship gathering it was especially intense and uncontrollable. For her sake and the sake of others in the room my wife walked out into the foyer with her. That evening, after the worship gathering had ended, one of the strong and caring women of our church walked up to my wife and said, “Don’t take her out. We love her. We can handle it.” The tears come retelling this story years later.
About four years ago my wife had an injury called costrochondritis–the tearing of the tissue between the ribs. It is incredibly painful and debilitating. For a long time she couldn’t open a water bottle or drive a car. Most people heal in a matter of weeks, but for a variety of reasons it took my wife almost six months before she could perform the tasks necessary to get through the day. I know it’s common for people to come to the aid of the sick and hurting, but it is also common for that care to wane as an injury or illness lingers on. During the six months my wife was incapacitated, people from our church came to clean our house once a week. We had meals delivered to us at least three days a week every week. People drove my wife to appointments so I could continue with work and other obligations. Women from our church came and just sat with my wife–crying, praying, and talking. It was six solid months of holistic, loving, sacrificial care.
There are many other stories I could tell that stem from the struggles and tragedies of others who were a part of our church, but those are not mine to tell. I do know there are many who would affirm with me that they experienced a significant fulfillment of Jesus’ command in John 13.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So the first thing I’m taking with me from my time with our church is a deep experience of love put into action among the people of the church. Because of our experience with our church I know it is possible.
Other Posts in This Series
- We’re All the Church–Kids Included
- The Importance of the Weekly Gathering
- The Privilege and Challenge of Being a Pastor and Friend