I Do Church Differently Than My Ancestors Did

I had the good fortune to be invited to tell a story at http://www.tracesoffaith.com last year. For many reasons, the worship practice of my youth is not the worship practice of sustains me today; I have changed.

How remarkable is it that while I have changed, and will continue to do so, God changes not.

Read my story. Share your own?

Daniel-mccullough-514242-unsplash

photo credit: daniel mccullough (unsplash.com)

The way I do church will likely surprise you. I am, first and foremost, a proud daughter of God, Imago Dei, frail, flawed, and in the words of one of my favorite poets and lyricists Jill Scott,

beautifully human.

Beyond that, I am a PK (preacher’s kid), a product of the National Baptist Convention, USA, a historically African-American denomination with a legacy reaching back to 1860. I’m a lot.

Where do I attend church? St. Luke’s Episcopal, and before that for more than 10 years, Christ (Anglican) Church. Despite deep Baptist roots, 25 years ago, having married the love of my life, I have spent most of my adult life worshipping in the Anglican/Episcopal tradition. It feeds my soul.

Where I worship and how I do church are not the same. Do you remember Peter’s statement upon witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17? He wanted to build a temple and remain there, upon sacred ground. Who wouldn’t want to steal away to a secret, sacred place and stay there?

But alas, that is not our calling here on earth. We enter sacred spaces to worship, and depart to serve. Serving, for me, is church.

I do church (serve) daily. It’s not where I go, it has become who I am. Acts of faith, committed mostly by instinct in random moments of bravery, not a Damascus Road experience, but more like a slow evolution over time, I trusted God, letting go, and just became me. The Lord charged Joshua to be strong, not to be dismayed, to be of good courage. He made us, He loves us; so we’ve got to trust Him.

Some of the bravest things I have ever said or done followed my commitment to do church and serve. Those experiences carried me from my wilderness seasons to a joyful new time in my life’s journey, and I am certain that God knew when He created the world that I’d be here.

There was a time in my life when I believed the kind of servant He’d willed me to be was very different from the woman I’ve become. This woman is braver.

The way I do church, fully committed in all things and at all times, is beautiful. I don’t proselytize, I do not boldly declare, I just am. I live a life, wide open, fully committed to the Gospel as I understand it. It is natural. I am filled with a holy boldness, and a little bit dangerous, but only in the most beautiful and sacred way.

I weather life’s storms not only for what they teach me about my own faith, but for the testimony of Goodness and Abounding Grace God pours into me to share. As a friend says, God is so big. It is never about me and my story, it’s about testifying God’s Grace and Mercy.

Each of us is a Divine Masterpiece. Once we embrace who we are in Him, without preconception, He is loosed in us, and we truly become that to which we were called.

I read once,

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too?!

Go do church. Go find the essence of your soul and see God there. Seek Him for the holy boldness He wove in to you, knowing you’d find it in His Perfect time. Do church every day, before and after worship on Sundays, in every moment, with every action, with every word, breath, and deed.

Understand that your call to serve, to do church, may not look like anyone else’s, or even resemble anything you might have envisioned or imagined. Nevertheless, trust God.

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