This week's scripture from Acts is a rollicking take of the adventures of those first folks who were figuring out how to be "church."
Paul and Silas are living the adventure of a life of faith, with intensity.
Do the stuff of "church": healing people and being living testimony to the power of the Gospel. And, as they do these things, they end up doing things that are not what the world expects.
Sometimes it gets them into trouble, and sometimes it makes them friends. It's definitely not what people expect. It's casting out spirits, getting thrown into jail, being freed by earthquakes and not running. And, about finding yourself breaking bread with the person who'd been charged with keeping you in chains.
This week, as you may know, we had a fire at our church building, in a room below our sanctuary. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the damage was fairly contained. I've been inspired by a spirit amongst our church leaders to not only persevere, but to be strengthened by this.
There have been overwhelmingly gracious offers of help from people--individuals and other churches and communities of faith. That people want to help us recover this beautiful church building is a blessing.
And, while I am glad for all this, I also wondering if it's not an occasion to remember what "church" really is: the gathering of those of us who are trying to be Christ's body in the world. Maybe now's as good of a time as any to remember that "church" happens most wondrously when we're out in the world.
I love the freshness and boldness of the faith Paul and Silas lived. Their faith (with the help of that earthquake) was rocking the world.
What do you think that would look like in San Diego, today?
A friend sent me the link to an article about a virtual church in the online world of Second Life. And, recognizing that I'm posting this on a little blog we call "virtual cove," I have to wonder at the distance between this kind of "church" and Paul and Silas's church. Both were a bit unconventional: one in a jail cell, and one in thousands of homes in front of computer screens (and with people, presumably, still in their pajamas. I am as I write this, after all...)
What I love about Paul and Silas and those other early Christians is that their faith lacked tenuousness, and certainly didn't have any of the buffers and safety barriers online life does. They weren't playing at being new people in Christ, trying on a different persona with the option of turning the computer off and becoming their old selves again. They were doing it, with the help of others.
I'm not saying that what we do in our church buildings on Sunday morning is a good recreation of Paul and Silas's lives of faith, either. (God knows that pantyhose and neckties were not part of their dress when they preached in that jail cell...)
I guess I'm just hungry for interaction, as the community of faith, that pushes us toward that vitality, joy and bold invitation.