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

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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

“The Air We Breathe”, from L.Willows (Prayer, Unity, Call us Home, Love)

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I long for a gathering that would bring our voices together again. I long for a gathering in this hour that would bring our hearts lovingly before the Lord in Unity.

God, I am praying for your Holy Breath through the power of Your Spirit, that we may be filled today with Your Oneness.  Bend us towards you, convict each of our hearts of sin and help us to repent. We are humbled before you in confession. We depart from you when we do not love, when we judge and when we create false boundaries. Our pride is a mask that blinds us and leads us into a land far from you.

Bring us home, Father into the tent of Your everlasting Love. Gather us as your family. Be the Air that Breathes hope and new life into each of our lives. Lead us into tomorrow with courage, strengthened by Your Presence.

Lead us from fear and secure our hearts in the temple of Your Eternal Understanding. Call us home to Your loving Security when we become separated. Guard us against temptations of this world that fan the flames of your adversaries and lead us in the paths of Righteousness.

Forgive us when we depart from You. Forgive us when we forget that You are the Air that we Breathe. We pray to be in Your Holy Presence. May Your Holy and Living Breath dwell in our hearts in this and every moment. Be the cause that walks before us in our lives. Lord, unite us in the name of your love, in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

© 2020 from L.Willows

(Words to the Hillsong Song “Breathe”)

This is the Air I Breathe
This is the Air I Breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

Chorus

And I
I’m desperate for you
And I
I’m lost without you

 

“Lift my son to You, Lord”…prayer poem from LWillows

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“Lord, lift my son to You”

I lost and found him throughout the years,
In stories that wound and then tangled with tears.
There I lay soaked in a hive of mother fears,
Caught in the crossfire of life’s inner spheres.

I surrendered, bent forth, in soliloquy bared,
And all of my words left your heart undeclared.
You are loved, my son. My soul pours without end.
Nothing could sever or hinder soul’s blend.

Your eyes shine blue like faraway doors,
Yet I wander through the decades of horizons, yours.
More cherished than anything that words could hide;
Inscribed are the visions that love wrote inside.

Lord, carry what I am powerless to hold.
Lift my son’s heart to Yours in Love’s mercy bold.
Be His Father, stir the miracles – the ones that were born
When you formed him in me, your own Spirit’s dwelling sworn.

© 2017 Linda Willows, 2018