One of the things I like most about our church is its non-conformity to traditional church models. When we talked about how it would be structured, small, home-based churches with a monthly larger group worship gathering, it was both exciting and a little confusing. My mind was filled with questions about how we would be maintain continuity between the groups and keep everything moving forward at the same time. Questions aside, I was also ready for something radically different than anything I'd experienced before.
Ever since we started it has been a refreshingly stretching experience. The past three weeks exemplify some of the appeal of our how our church does things differently. I like to refer to it as a church without walls. A building-less church.
Two weeks ago we met at the Barrett House for our usual Sunday gathering. There were probably fourteen people there and we had an engaging and fascinating discussion about the Holy Spirit. We talked about Acts and Pentecost and how the Trinity both defines God and defies any easy description. The Holy Spirit is still a big mystery to many of us, especially in the twenty first century. It is always fascinating to hear different peoples' takes on what they understand as the "leading" of the Holy Spirit.
Because many people travel during the Memorial Day weekend, we decided as a group that, rather than meet as we usually do in our various house churches, we would meet at Retzer Nature Center and take a hike. Being a big outdoors person, I was all over this idea. I always feel a great connection with God when I'm outdoors, let alone when it is a breathtaking setting like some of the vistas we saw at Retzer.
Now, I'm of the opinion that you cannot separate the beauty of God's creation from faith in God himself. I'm not alone in this thinking, it's been around since Biblical times in verses like:
Psalm 96: 11-12
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Romans 1: 20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
So we hiked and we talked as we went along. We saw a Fen and learned what it was. The kids ran ahead, then waited as we caught up. They picked flowers and asked questions. All along the way we saw evidence of the beauty of creation and the circle of life. There were colorful flowers and singing birds, trickling streams and fields of native grasses. It was simultaneously grounding, humbling, and awesome. Again, I'll say, it's my feeling that the beauty of nature and the greatness of God are inseparable. It was nice as a church to go out and experience both firsthand. The beauty inherent in every flower and plant, in every human and animal, is proof of the sovereignty, power and greatness of God to me.
Worship + Potluck
Tomorrow evening we will be gathering as a Collective at St. Matthias church in downtown Waukesha. We'll sing a little, discuss the liturgy a little, have communion and then eat potluck. Around the dinner table we'll find out what's new in each others' lives - the good and the not-so-good, and, hopefully, we'll come away closer than we were last week.
And so in three weeks we'll have experienced three different ways to approach better understanding God, his creation and our place in it. That is what I love about our church. We break the mold of conventional worship, study, fellowship and service. We don't do everything right, but most days, it feels pretty spot on.
And I, for one, am happy to be a part of it.