A Visit to my Old Church

Today I spoke at Wembley Downs Church of Christ. They asked me to come and share about what “church” and “mission” meant to me, also what was behind what we are doing here in Joondalup.
I am always cautious about being asked to speak about what ‘we’ are ‘doing’, as in our Christian community. Cautious because in some ways we are doing nothing. Just ‘being’ together, and depending on who you talk to from our group of friends we are ‘doing’ many different things. We don’t have a master plan or collective agreement of what we are doing or even if we will be the kind of group that ‘do’ anything. IN fact there is little agreement within our group even if we are a ‘group’ or just a bunch of people who are journeying together in life, faith etc.
So I spoke about me and my stuff and reason for doing what I/we (our family) are doing here in Joondalup.
It is a strange place for me to visit. I have reflected here about a previous visit.
There is too much history for me to ever try to fill you in on my 18 year story at this church, but it was the first 18 years of my life…So that say enough – important years!
I left thinking I knew better, like so many 18 year olds!
This church was into things like reflective practice, taize worship, speaking with monks, social justice, refugee rights, feeding the poor. I was looking for things that “real’ Christians did. So I left looking for conferences in Sydney, drums in worship, million dollar budgets, ‘excellence’ and so on.
I am almost 40 and sit in this church which really has not changed much at all.
In fact they still have 3 people up front sittingbehind the communion table. One to read the OT reading and do the prayer for the bread, one for the NT reading and the prayer for the wine and a president.
Mikaela my 10 y/o came with me and noted that they had ‘3 singers on the stage, no mikes and only one organ, but the worship was still good‘. So funny the perception, she is used to having anyone on stage being a ‘singer’!
Their theme was about ‘doubts’. They read this statement of faith out –

  • I do not believe…God wills hunger and poverty for the planets children
  • I do not believe…God organizes the death of anyone young or old
  • I do not believe…God hates our questions or detests our doubts
  • I do not believe…God wished us to accept everything without debate
  • I do not believe…God likes the status quo that denies people liberty and freedom
  • I do not believe…God approve of what we have done to ‘religion’
  • I do not believe…God only speaks through words
  • I do not believe…God can be understood only through the interpretation of scholars
  • I do not believe…God is limited by human description
  • I do Believe God loves us
  • I do believe that God loves us so much that death was crushed and life began anew
  • I do believe what I can grasp and hold, and touch, and also what I cannot grasp but know deep within
  • I have not seen the empty tomb but I believe in the risen Christ
  • I believe. God help my unbelief. Amen.

Interesting hey?
I shared about my weak faith, my doubts, my understandings, my theories and ideas about discipleship and mission and Kingdom. I shared for about 15 – 20 minutes until some actually put their hand up and asked a question, then others asked and interacted. It was engaging and fun and I would have to say healing for me in some way.

Mikaela said it best as we drove off. “Dad, although that was a small church and not fancy and stuff, it was one of the most welcoming and friendly churches I think I’ve been to”.
Jesus was there too hey! (funny that!!)
How arrogant we are to suggest that God is not at work in such and such a church, in fact to suggest that he is not at work anywhere for that matter. He is…He just IS! He said it Himself didn’t He? “I AM”

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3 thoughts on “A Visit to my Old Church

  1. Very challenging and good post Vaws.

    I identified with a lot of what you said. We all have some “old church” history that needs to be dealt with from time to time.

    Wasn’t it Jesus who said that unless we become like a small child, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

    Shalom,
    Steve

  2. Yes, it is very true, in fact I felt just like a small child standing in front of the congregation on Sunday. I felt I needed to ask their forgivness for attitudes and words spoken against them over the years. One lady came up to me and said, “I almost did not come today, I thought I was going to hear an arrogant man from a big church in Mullaloo telling us that we are getting it all wrong.” Another person came up and said “you have finally grown up, you were a cheeky, arogant young boy when you were here”…humbling I guess, sort of leaves you feeling…well glad that you changed but sad that you were seen in such ways by some.

  3. It’s good to have you back from your blog fast Vawz! Is the world getting greyer and more fuzzy or is it just me 😉

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