Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Name:
Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Experiencing Church

I have been wondering what it is like to be a visitor at our worship services. What does someone off the street remember about being with us? What do they notice? What do they feel? What do they hear? Surely the sum total of their experience with God's people, is not the absence of a piano, no woman preacher and grape juice and crackers? Please tell me there is more! As I began thinking about this, I began praying, praying that when they walked through those doors, our visitors would truly experience church ---the kind of church God intended. As I prayed, I began to wonder what exactly God expected the "church experience" to be.
I love being with the church! Really I do! Sure I get tired sometimes and just need some alone time, and there are, at times, many demands on ministers and their wives, but generally, I love being with the church. I have been known to plan activities and host singings, etc. just so we could spend more time together. To be honest, there have been some negative experiences with church. I have known poor leaders, lazy brothers and sisters, wolves that came in trying to divide and devour. But those experiences are few and far between.
My experience with church happens both inside the building and outside, both in organized and unorganized settings. I love Sundays. Ned and I are both usually completely ready a full hour before it is time to leave---and then we pace and look at our clocks, anxious to be with our brothers and sisters. We practically run from the car into the building, no small feat in high heels. As I sit down for my class, I begin praying for the four and five year olds who will soon be arriving. I pray that they will come to love God with their entire being. I pray they will never lose their faith and always be full of courage. I pray that we will learn from each other this morning and that I will remember how important it is to love like a child. As I prepare to "march in the infantry", I smile and I want to clap my hands because I am "happy and I know it."
We sing, we pray, we cut, we color and we talk about God and His work. We talk about what it means to belong to Him. And we learn what church is all about.
When class is over, I hurriedly gather my things and walk into the auditorium. I am excited to be there. Greeting my brothers and sisters, seeing them smile, hug me and even sometimes kiss my cheek, is a wonderful way to begin worshipping together. As I welcome them all and they welcome me, I feel such a sense of peace and contentment. This is so right! This is what it should be. This is where I belong. The experience gets better and better as we share our prayer concerns and spend time talking to God together, petitioning His mercy for those we love. As the songleader steps up to announce the first hymn, my heart has already begun singing. I am excited to praise God in this way. The blending of the voices, the blending of hearts, the total harmony causes my heart to soar. I listen as God's Word is read and I am amazed how pure and true the text is, how applicable to everyday life and every Christian's walk. As we commune together over the Lord's Supper, I find my mind picturing the sacrifice, picturing the undying love on the face of a dying man. I am humbled and grateful and awed by His love.
My heart swells with pride as my husband makes his way to the podium. I whisper, "Preach the Word". I know he has been praying about this moment, praying God will place in his mouth and heart the exact words those listening need to hear. I am not worried that he will teach false doctrine for I know he is more than just my man, he is God's man. The worship service ends all too quickly and as we visit with our church family, I am thankful for the evening service because I know I want more. I am grateful for such an amazing church experience.
I have also experienced church outside the building. When my first husband was in the emergency room dying, approximately forty of my church family showed up in the ER to pray with us. Their prayers and their very presence gave me strength and courage. When I was a single mother, struggling to provide for my children, the gifts, the phone calls, the cards, even just the hugs made parenting much less daunting. The church helped raise my boys. Several men took them to do "man" things. They helped me with automotive problems and general repairs. When I decided to go back to school and get my degree, my church family rallied around me, offering encouragement and support and even help with college algebra. When I remarried, they celebrated with me. I was grateful for their example of church. Over the years I have experienced church in many ways, many places and many many times. If I chronicled all them, this post would go on and on. God has blessed me by placing me or allowing me to worship and live and work with incredible Christians. They are my family! We have laughed together often, prayed together frequently, wept together occasionally and will love each other eternally. I have realized over the years that experiencing church is more that a touchy feely subjective event, it is an everyday, every hour, every minute occurence. And until we truly experience church, we cannot understand love, we cannot truly grasp fellowship and we cannot really comprehend community. This is what I want for our visitors, this is what I want for my community, this is what I want for my world. Oh that we could all come to experience church!

Peace
Neva

24 Comments:

Blogger Nicki said...

Praise God for your awesome experiences and visions for your church!! Sounds amazing!!

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Tim Archer said...

Beautiful!

I think, as well, that we need to spend more time thinking about an outsider's point of view. To my eye, we could spend a little more time explaining what we do, particularly the Lord's Supper and contribution. Those are the moments when they are put on the spot: are they suppposed to take and are they supposed to give? Will anyone be offended if they do/don't?

Grace and peace,
Tim

7:57 AM  
Blogger DJG said...

Thank you...I am sure any visitor that encounters you knows that you love your God and your church.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, we all need to experience church. Great post, Neva

Rachel

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen!
Great post!

Carlos

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva,
I wish I worshiped where you live! I would love to have that experience. Sounds like it would be very encouraging and uplifting. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Blessings,
Corinne

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Helen said...

You are always posting faster than I read :-) and each post is better than the other. Thanks for that lots of encouragement!

I love church and I am just wishing, that I am representing church as well and that God shines through that...!

11:47 AM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

I feel the same way about our church and our church family! I love experiencing church! Blessings!

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was wonderful and encouraging.
Thanks :)
Paula

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is good to put us in spiritual communities isnt He. I don't know what I would do without my church family. They have been closer than physical family have been. Being with them is always an experience and almost always a blessing
:)

Love ya
Kel

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva,
I am reminded of a previous post of yours about meaning everything we do. I believe the kind of church experience you are talking about stems from you and the others around you MEANING to come together to worship in a way that is uplifting and encouraging. I think we can all make our worship experience more like this if we truly think about how wonderful it is to be together proclaiming the Lord's name. If more Christians came to worship in this way, I think we would have less people leaving to find something more "exciting." What could be more exciting than experiencing heaven on earth? Thanks for a great post. I am already looking forward to Sunday!
In Him,
Debbie

1:07 PM  
Blogger Keith Davis said...

To hear you speak of the longing you have for being with your church family is so refreshing. In thie postmodern world where so much is downplayed with "church," we need to hear your words about your church family.

It is so sad that not all people within the church has the same experience. There are probably people who don't see your church family the same way you do. Too many of us focus on the negative and miss the joy and fellowship of church.

I thank God for my church family. They allow me as a preacher to be a "real" person and do not place me or my family up on a higher plain than anyone. They are a loving bunch of imperfect people striving to live this life and longing for heaven where we will be able to have "church" with our Father face to face, thank Jesus for His sacrifice, and thank the Holy Spirit for His comfort, guidance, and support.

May God bless our churches to become what you have described. By the way, I want to read your statement to our congregation sometime with your permission. Thanks so much.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Traci said...

This is what I want too. I did go Wednesday night and it was hard because I want so badly to have what you described but I want it NOW, not in the amount of time I know it takes to get to that point.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Abiding In Christ, Amen! said...

Hi Neva, Great post. I pray that comes to our area soon.

BTW, you've been tagged missy!

http://authentic-light.blogspot.com/2007/06/tagged-5-reasons-why-i-dig-jesus.html

3:24 PM  
Anonymous donna said...

WOW...how far a drive are you from NY??? How I would love to experience that...and how I continue to pray God will work in this heart of mine....cuase I love Him so....

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Neva,
that sounds so wonderful! How I would love to worship in such a place with such a group of people. You are blessed my friend,

Jeneane

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful post and a testimony of what "church" should be like. I am sure God is smiling.
As am I.

Blessings
Mary

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your love of God is evident in your expressions of joy, well done.

Shari

4:57 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I appreciate your insight and interest.

I did not really make it clear that my church experience was not all in one congregation. Almost everywhere I have ever had the privilege of being church, has been an incredible and amazing experience. Spearman is great and the dear souls here help make the church experience so wonderful. But North Platte, Sunset, Rocky Ford, Kalispell, Redmond, etc. were all the same way--the church experience was such a blessing and I hope to live with all those dear souls for eternity.

Keith, anything on my blog is for sharing, feel free.

Again, thanks for commenting. You make it worth it!
Peace
Neva

6:38 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Traci, my sweet daughter in law, you are so right--it does take time, time to develop relationships and become involved. But the blessings are greater that you can imagine and when the church family shares your life, your life is even richer. I love you and I am praying.

Debbie,
Thank you for coming to my site and commenting. I know you miss my mom almost as much as I do. :)
love you
neva

Donna and Jeneane,
Not sure how far Spearman, TX is from either one of you but with air travel, everywhere is close. :)

Abiding---thanks for the tag, I will come by and see what I am supposed to do.
love
n

7:13 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

This reminds me of a song...
May the circle, be unbroken by and by Lord by and by...

I am so glad that you have had this as your experience. I have and I haven't. When I have, I must say that I can not get enough and when I haven't I always want it.

Kathy

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva, this is exactly how I feel about our church.

Kara


Judd says him too!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

What a great post! What kind of singings have you planned. I am hosting up yet another singspiration but I want it to be different from the rest. Something that will bring people in and bring them back.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous lisa said...

Neva, you have encouraged me with this post. I often feel the way you do about being with my church family. I love to be with them!! Sometimes, however, frustration (mostly with my own earthly family) gets in my way and sometimes I do not enjoy the assembly as I should. I look forward to being with the church tomorrow and having your attitude!!

11:26 PM  

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