Monday, June 2, 2014

A Love Letter to a Church

disclaimer: this was written late at night, is basically unedited and probably needed to be and definitely is not exhaustive. Please take it as it is: just a little love note.
Dear Church,
It seems good to me to express my sentiments toward you so that you can know how loved you are and how your love inspires me.

My heart was touched yesterday during worship. My longings for Christ were stirred by your heartfelt, unhurried worship. The songs that were chosen had good, rich words that were true and that I needed to sing to myself and to the Lord. Thank you for allowing me to express the praise and the pain in my heart, and for joining me in the expression. That time was deeply personal and yet also wonderfully collective.

I am encouraged by your humility. It's not a strength of mine. Thank you for allowing believers to share what they are learning and their stories of God's grace and mercy and goodness. By acknowledging your imperfections and total dependence on Christ, you soften me and give me permission to be less than perfect and to give the Lord all credit for anything good in me.

Thank you for taking Scripture seriously. I am strengthened to take God at His word and value His word highly by the way you apply His word to worship and the way you talk about the Word. I love to see your believers with their Bibles in hand, reading from their Bibles, looking up applicable Scripture, quoting Scripture, affirming the power of God's word. I've noticed that you observe the Lord's supper each week, not as a mere ritual but as a sweet, continual remembrance of Christ and His instructions to His followers. Thank you for encouraging me to love God's word!

I love how you love each other. You talk about being a family, a growing body of Christ. You talk of doing life together, being in community, being A community, growing old together, celebrating life events together. Some of your members have been in community for over 20 years! That impresses me. It reminds me of the little farm town I grew up in, how everyone knows practically everything about everyone. There is a lot of good (and bad!) in that. Even though there can be challenges and heartache with that kind of history with people, I really do miss it. To think of community like the small-town community I grew up with. . . and yet made up of believing brothers and sisters. . . is such a wonderful, big thought to me. You take your relationships seriously; I'm surprised by the love you have for each other and how you choose to invest so much of your time in your church community. Yet, it seems right to me (especially as I consider the early church's habit of meeting together and sharing life). Hebrews 11: 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Observing your love for each other is touching. I don't know if we can be part of this, if you would want to let us into this circle of intimate, messy, honest fellowship. It is very attractive to us, as we feel famished for fellowship. You have been generous to us, inviting us to meals and celebrations and meetings. Thank you for welcoming us in, for learning about us and giving us an opportunity to learn about you, too. Thank you for trying to learn our children's names. We know it's a challenge, but really appreciate your efforts. We see how much you value and enjoy children and that attitude is so sweet to us, especially since we live half a country away from our family.

We hear grace in your conversations. We hear reliance upon Christ. We hear how you love families. We are so encouraged- to be better parents, better in our marriages, better witnesses for Christ, more of who God designed us to be. Thank you for calling this out in us. Just yesterday, we had more, Scriptural parenting instruction than we have ever received.

It's hard to be a visitor, to feel like an outsider, to scramble to remember people's names and to think that we are the only people who may not understand what is being discussed. It's distracting to wonder if we are acting acceptably, or if we are ignorantly amiss. We appreciate your mindfulness of our family and how you have tried to smooth the awkwardness.

In short, we are enamored. We see that you aren't perfect, but you are exceedingly attractive to us. Already, you have encouraged and strengthened us and we are better for the time we have spent with you. We look forward to getting to know you better, for the sweetness we expect to come.

A Believing Sister (and her family)

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