It has been a long time since I saw my blog entry page. We’ve been a bit busy. Sara and I arrived in England on Wednesday morning at 7:00, trained into our hotel and got prepped for a business lunch at 12:45. Then we went to see a matinee version of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre in London! As tired as we were from not having had a night’s sleep, the story of redemption—of grace versus law—was deeply touching. We’ve heard lots about it, but had never seen it before.
Then we made our way down to Woking for the weekend and have basked the last four days in the joy of being with brothers and sisters we had not met before who are various places in this journey of breaking free from religious obligation and learning to live loved by the Father. The group in Woking has a marvelous story all their own, from planting a seeker-sensitive congregation nine years ago to dismantling it over the last year and a half and finding their way into a wonderful relational life together. These are people who have known each other for decades, whose children have grown up together and married each other and raising children of their own. We were so enriched by their life together and the things Father is opening up to them.
On Saturday we had another 30 or so people for a wider conversation about what God is doing today to invite people into his reality. We had people there from as far away as Denmark. What an awesome group of people with great questions and insights. Some have paid an incredible price to follow their conscience as God was leading them rather than just fit into the status quo. Two people there had grown up on the same street together more than 40 years ago, live hundreds of miles apart now, had not seen each other for decades and had no idea they were on similar journeys. Can you hear the Spirit knitting the family together?
I had one conversation with the man who had been their pastor through part of the time they were trying to be a more traditional congregation. He had a great answer to those who ask him, “Why don’t you go to church services anymore?”
He said he responds this way, “I have found there are two main reasons people attend religious services, either they really enjoy them or they feel obligated to go. I feel neither at this point in my life.” He said that allows others to stop and think about why they go. If people attend religious services because they enjoy it and it draws them closer to God, or helps them connect with others, then great. If, however, they only go out of obligation then they may get a chance to rethink it. There are many, many ways to experience the joys of church life without attending religious services. It’s just that so many people don’t know that yet.
Then yesterday Sara and I made our way up to Suffolk, in the countryside northeast of England (see picture above). We are with a group of people here who are also sorting out what it means to experience relational community. They moved up here to plant a church some years ago, but God is taking them on a marvelous journey of sorting out what it really means to live inside the life of the Father and to share that life with others. We had a marvelous time sorting through some of the cross last night and in a few minutes we will continue our conversation at a picnic this afternoon by the lake, and at a home later this evening. This is why I travel—to hang out with fellow-travelers who are discovering, often at great personal cost, what it means to live and share the love of the Father.
Then tomorrow it is off to Dorset for a friends and friends of friends gathering similar to what we shared in Ireland a couple of years ago. Many of these people are old friends, others will be new but we are looking forward to the rich fellowship of brothers and sisters relaxing together in the Lord’s love. This is not a conference with lots of meetings and teachings, but time to share wonderful conversations, connect relationally, and celebrate the life of Jesus together.
I am always amazed at the things Jesus invites me to be a part of with him, and this time with Sara too…