Today at Collective worship, we celebrated the first week after the Epiphany. It was mentioned that the definition of Epiphany actually is:
"The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi "
Unfortunately I was unable to hear the discussion of the liturgy, but something in the definition struck me right away. It may be a stretch, but I thought that from what I see, Collective - as a church and a community - is, in my opinion, a sort of manifestion of Christ to the world. Our church is its own sort of Epiphany, if you will. Now, before anyone calls me out on it, I just want to say what I've seen that makes me feel this.
I continually see our house church folks rise up to fill gaps with families in need or people dealing with hardship that they come in contact with every day, via their work and school. At a minimum, people ask for prayer, but more often than not, when a need is brought up, someone steps forward with money passed humbly, a meal or groceries, or an offer to help in other ways.
What makes this so cool is that it has become part of who we are. It's second nature to see the need and react.
At the same time I see it in how we care for our own as well. Whether it be helping someone with an ailing auto, cutting grass for someone who can't for a time, or taking a meal to a set of new parents, we've become a church a action.
I'd like to say we are instilling this love for the world in the children of our church as well. Today I helped oversee a number of our kids as they assembled sandwiches for the men of Guest House - a homeless shelter in Milwaukee for guys in transition to independent living.
The whole process was chaotic, noisy and filled with lots of busy, tiny hands in big sanitary gloves. There were probably a few ham sandwiches mislabeled as turkey too because, as I said, it was a little chaotic. (My wife and I mentioned how we both needed a nap after it was all done. Ha!) The moral of the story though is this activity also netted the Guest House about 80 sandwiches. Kids as little as 5 years old, serving and modeling the manifestation of Christ to the world.
Before we dismissed for sandwich assembly, we heard from Kristen about how she feels she has become a different brand of Christian. I loved that phrase, and think it could be applied to Collective as a church as well. We are a different brand of church, one focused on becoming the hands and feet of Christ, in love, to each other and to a broken, hurting world. Numbers aren't important. Cliches and Christian-speak are not important. What is important is what we see when we open our eyes and see through the lens of Christ.