What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Church’?
What does it mean to say “I’m going to Church this Sunday?” Is it just a house of worship?
Is it just something to do on a Sunday morning out of duty and routine?
While this post is not an essay on Church, it is about one in particular. Recently, I heard an additional definition of LaFayette Alliance Church(LAC) where my husband pastors.
A refuge for the suffering(Pastor Rob)
suffering=: the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.
refuge=: shelter or protection from danger or distress; something to which one has recourse in difficulty(Webster’s Dictionary)
The past few years this definiton has evolved for LAC. The darkness and confusion of fog hovering over our Church have left us with no recourse, but to run to our Savior with our questions, hurts, and uncertainties. When the fog does not lift, we need a refuge. Psalm 46:1-3
Not only are many suffering from cancer, but there has also been the sudden passing of loved ones, a cancer diagnosis of a mother caring for her son who has cancer, lost jobs, broken bones, broken hearts over children gone astray. What can be done when the burden is heavy? the brokenhearted crushed?
One thing we have stopped doing is asking why. I recently sat with my husband at the bedside of a woman of God just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. A wife and a mother, taking care of her husband who is not well, and her son who has fought his own battle with cancer for several years. With our arms wrapped around this family, weeping with those who weep, my husband wisely and lovingly said;
I don’t know ‘why’ this is happening, if I knew, I would be God.’
While we do want to know ‘why’ to so many circumstances we face every single day, a better question as followers of Jesus is ‘what’? And in the midst of the many trials and suffering where we find ourselves, we run to our Great God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and pour our hearts out to him. Praying together as a community has brought comfort and assurance that we are not alone.
In addition to praying fervently for one another, our community of believers makes meals, does yard work, visits those who are sick at home or in the hospital, and writes notes of encouragement. We have come together in the mist of the fog, believing that in joy and sorrow, laughter and sadness, anticipation of new life or new relationships, that we will rejoice in God our Savior who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
LAC, a refuge for the suffering? Yes. But also a place where you will be welcomed, embraced and loved, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Wearing jeans to Church on Sunday morning has never been a practice of mine. Not because I look down on those who do or because wearing ‘church clothes’ is really what worshipping God is all about. My history explains why jeans on a Sunday morning have been off-limits.
Growing up in middle, rural America my family went to Church. For the most part, my hard-working parents worked six out of seven days, taking a well deserved and needed rest on Sunday. When we were rescued from the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13) we went to Church most Sunday mornings to worship. I don’t remember what I wore, but my Mom taught and modeled for me and my sisters how to dress well. To this day, she loves a new outfit…and so do I! But what we wear when we worship the God of the universe isn’t the point, is it?
When I graduated from high school, I was off to Bible college where pastors, missionaries, teachers, and pastor’s wives prepared for ministry. It was an ultra conservative school where the young ladies wore skirts and dresses, rounding out our daily attire with pantyhose. The young men wore suit coats and ties. This dress code was everyday to class and to family style dining in the evening. Pants for girls were even off-limits in the library. I’m still not sure of all the reasoning behind this dress code. And even today I can’t put into words why is it really so important what we wear? Over the years I know I have put too much thought on a Saturday night into what I’m going to wear on Sunday morning. I should be thinking about what my heart looks like and am I ready for worship. I think of friends ministering in the far reaches of Africa, or the sweltering weather of South Sudan. I’m sure pantyhose and ties are not on the list of things to wear. On the other hand, I don’t think it represents our Lord well when what we do wear becomes a distraction to those around us.
Shouldn’t THE focus of a Sunday Morning be our Creator God? Shouldn’t we be more interested in the condition of our hearts and not if we dress to the nines or wear our favorite jeans?
I guess where all of this is coming from is my recent study I am leading in our women’s Sunday School class. We are sitting down with Jesus on the mountainside as he talks to his disciples about following him and true righteousness.(Matthew 5-7) I confess, too many times I look more like the pharisees who were worried about keeping all the commandments and looking good on the outside.(Matthew 6:1) But Jesus wants to get to the heart of the matter. He tells us to clean the inside of the cup, our hearts, not just the outside. Is my heart right with God as I head off to Church or have I spent more time figuring out what to wear? Do I want to look good in the pew or do I want to be right with my Heavenly Father who is waiting to be worshipped and adored for the Great God He is?!!!!
Church clothes…personal preference. I don’t think it matters what I’m wearing when it comes to loving God with all my heart, mind and soul and my neighbor as myself. Or as I head off to Sunday Morning to be in awe of God who is good all the time. Honor God in your heart and it will shine in your heart and life.