by admin on September 20, 2010
I love being part of a local church.
The local church is not a perfect place . . . it’s a place where imperfect people find community and support for all seasons of life – and especially for the season when crisis comes (and it will visit all of us!). That’s why the patterns we establish when everything is ‘normal’ are so critical – those rhythms will help guide us as we move through the storms of people doing people stuff, and other calamities beyond our control.
I got a rare gift this weekend – a chance to spend this past weekend with Mark Buchanan and some of the worship community of New Life Community Baptist; a vibrant and wonderful local church on Vancouver Island. I learned about some of the struggles that the leaders of this amazing church are going through . . . and it made me realize again; even the best of local churches go through struggles as they pastor people. The gift of the local church is that we don’t go through those struggles alone, and if we chose to treat each other with the same grace we need, we receive gifts along the way that sustain us in our journey. I see in Mark the hallmarks of a faithful and fruitful shepherd (who has served this community for 15 years!); one who loves God with his whole heart, loves people, and does everything he can to help the people under his care know the truth that will set them free. Listening to him preach this morning I was energized once again by the truth and allegory in the gospel of John. I have always been drawn to this gospel – probably more than any other – and Mark’s words provided some of the ‘aha’ of why this gospel has always moved me.
As part of my role of being the guest worship leader, I was able to share 3 of the songs from Level Ground as part of the gathering this morning. I used ‘Welcome to the place of level ground’ as the 2nd song (after opening with ‘The River’) and then after the offering we did ‘The Jesus Way’ and then before Mark’s message (a stunningly powerful message on John 2 – Turning the water to wine) I sang ‘Enter the rest of God’ I thought it would be fitting to sing this song over this Duncan congregation – because Mark’s book ‘The Rest of God’ has been deeply impacting to me. It seems to me that this book will become a modern classic on how to recover the Sabbath rest for us moderns who seem to have lost touch with the need to rest deeply once a week . . . and maybe even more challenging for those of us whose lives are connected to serving the church and Sunday is a work day.
So now that I am on the other side of the release of LEVEL GROUND I realized again who these songs are for. They’re for faithful people like the people in New Life Community Baptist Church. They’re for people like Allan & Lynda; Conor & Loni and other friends that I have met here in Duncan who believe in the reality of the local church and are ready to serve willingly and support their pastor through the ups and downs of local church life. I thank God for them – and for all churches like New Life all over this nation of ours.
Starbucks at the intersection of Beverly Road and the Trans Canada Highway in Duncan B.C. Sunday Sep 19, 5:30 PM