This morning, our beloved congregation will worship without us. Nichole and I are in Syracuse, New York for a conference and concert.
I’ll be completely honest. I don’t like being away. It is more nerve-wracking than being there. When you invest so much of yourself into something you believe is God’s thing, you become very attached to it. Our congregation is our lives – our family and our friends. We have relationships in our congregation that, if you think about it, we invest more into than we do our own biological relationships.
I had trouble sleeping last night, and as I was tossing and turning on the block of cement our hotel has deemed a “bed”, the faces of so many of our co-laborers passed through my mind with simple prayers. There are, of course, Steve and Sheryl who are caring for our daughter Ariel. But there’s also Donald who is teaching this morning; and Greg, Matt, Ron and Tom who are leading the music part of the worship. There’s new friends we’ve just met and people we’ve worked with for years. There’s Leo, our sound guy, and his wife Deb who have become in many ways some of our best friends.
There are struggling single dads and celebrating grandparents. There are doctors, lawyers, landscapers and contractors. There are people with dark skin, people with pale skin, people with hair and people with shiny starbursts coming from their heads when they pass under the lights. We’ve got musicians and people who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Deaf people, loud people, people who don’t say much and people who say everything that comes to mind.
But they’re all us. They’re all the church, our congregation of believers who gather and worship together. They are unique and special, but part of so much more that Jesus Christ is doing on earth. Being away from them is harder than being with them (and sometimes being with them can be pretty hard).
I love our congregation. I love what Jesus is doing in his body, and being away and among other believers is great but it isn’t the same.
Can’t wait to be back with all the jumbled artistry of Bedford Road – or as one of our folks calls it, “The Road.”