“Being a Church that Loves”, written by Dave Todaro (Healing, Connecting, Confession)

thelost-sheep

Dear Readers,  I would like to share this letter that was offered on our Church’s Community page online. I understand that there are not enough words to express the sentiments of our hearts at this time. I don’t even know where to start, myself. I am wordless and grieved. I pray for repentance, healing, deep change and revival. 

We need to live as Christians in an aching world. We are the Church walking forward. What does that look like, what does that feel like? These are the thoughts of one Christian, one morning during these troubling times. -L. Willows

Being a Church that Loves

Brothers and sisters, on this beautiful morning I’d like to share concern and hope with you. As unsettling events unfold and as I continue to interact with people who do not know Jesus, I am struck by the need for us to find ways to export the rich spiritual messages that I hear us preaching to ourselves. We each have been given a unique sphere of influence. In recent days, here is what mine has echoed back to me: confusion, anger, hopelessness, weariness. This from people we might expect to be rocks in a storm.

I am continuing to learn the impact that Christ-followers can have in people’s lives by letting our lives authentically touch theirs. Authenticity doesn’t mean perfection. Just over the last 24 hours I’ve been made aware of how powerful it can be for us when people see me stumble, and then ask for forgiveness. Tom has asked us recently about our “spiritual ceiling” – do I allow the Holy Spirit to guide my interactions with people in ways that raise my ceiling?

Paul called us letters. God’s love letters to the world. If I am a letter, I need to be readable. No letter with many sentences blocked out can be effective. I’d be suspicious of a letter like that, wouldn’t you? I hope my unbelieving friends, many of whom are full of questions and confusion in times like this, don’t look at my life and wonder what’s hidden underneath the block-outs. (Name of church member), thanks for your recent confession on this page. That’s what I call removing block-outs!

So here’s my challenge, perhaps you will join me in this: Am I making an effort to integrate my life into the lives of at least some people in my sphere of influence? Am I letting them see my life and know me, warts and all? Have I integrated my life into the lives of people in my sphere of influence so that I have touched them? So that I am a readable and impactful love letter from God?

You may find this controversial but it’s something to consider: We’ve been encouraged to isolate from people for much of 2020 for health reasons. I understand it. I don’t want to get sick or to spread an awful sickness. So I (however imperfectly) comply. Yet I am also aware that Jesus chose, quite intentionally and quite scandalously, to physically touch unclean people when he healed them. Physical touch is a powerful signal of community, acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation. However wise or foolish you believe the public policy response to the virus, it is a fact that many of us have been made fearful to use the powerful tool of touch. Without minimizing the sinful brutality or pattern of injustice that resulted in George Floyd’s murder, I wonder if the race and class divisions and fissures that have tragically beset our nation for its entire history, have been recently exacerbated by the precautions that have been urged on us. I was moved by the story of law enforcement officers in one Texas city who recently knelt with protesters and hugged them. And of the impact that had on people to bring about at least the start of a healing process. God created people to be made up of body, soul, and spirit – and he cares for every aspect of who he created us to be (1 Thess 5:23). I am not surprised that anger dissolves, tension dissipates, and dialog happens, when there is hugging.

So now, with our nation and world negotiating perhaps its most difficult passage since I was an adolescent in the late 1960s, I pray that the world will see us being the church. I hope that as the civil authorities tell us it is increasingly acceptable to physically re-integrate ourselves into our communities, that we who know Jesus will seize upon the opportunities we have to reconnect with those who don’t know him. And just maybe to give someone who really needs it, a hug.

© 2020 Dave Todaro

“Love Never Fails, Ever-After, Everywhere”, a poem from L.Willows

Love Never Fails, Ever-After, Everywhere

If you have lost a dear one
May your arms feel full
Let the day be brightened by
the streams of love’s till.

As you hope still
have faith in this hour.
May grace come to witness your burdens as pleaded.
This is the space where God’s mercies are needed.

Then your heart will be wrapped in His unfailing care,
Softened and nourished, though your loved one is not there.
Love never fails, never-lost, ever-after. Love is in the all-forever. It is Love, everywhere.

© 2018 Linda Willows

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Psalm 143:8

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16

“Day calls Glory by Name” a worship poem from L.Willows

zzzzWHEAT34d17889de196a377155f619362cbe50edit

Day calls Glory by Name…
throughout all- our hearts and lives can reach; rest and find Strength in God

When the world quakes with lives that suffer and plead;
Hearts break and unwind, all our buffers recede.
Night whispers do groan from the might of God’s girth.
A moaning that aches in plights of His Earth.

The battle that calls us; the weak and the strong,
to stand up and walk in the fires that grow long:
It defies us to slumber, to harden or to rest
and motions our souls to embolden the quest.

No hunger nor thirst could deny such a call
when lives turn to face the redeem of God’s All.
In the midst of all rumbles and darkened night mists,
We turn to the One that receives our heart’s lists.

When our lives are reborn to the soul of Love’s seed.
Mortal hearts will revive in a Graced intercede.
Blessed then with a dare and the faith to proclaim
Our Lord’s light as day, His Glory by Name.

© 2017 republish; 2016 Linda Willows

Naming “The Glory” is none other than that of Our Lord, Christ Jesus. When we call upon The Light of The World which is God we can walk in that Light. Our lives are reborn to Love.

1John 1:5-7
This is then the message we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in the darkness, we lie and do not (live) the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ Son cleanseth us from all sin.