“I love it when a plan comes together!”
– John “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team
This last Sunday was our “Sent on Sunday”…Sunday. If you’ve been with Restoration Church even for a short time, you’ve probably heard the “shpeel.” Or, as I just found out, “spiel.”
Anyway, the point of being “Sent on Sunday” is for us to remember that being the church is not just about gathering on Sunday to sing a few songs, hear a sermon, and take communion. That’s one of the reasons we exist–to gather for “worship.” But it’s not the only reason. And maybe not even the main one. We set out after the vision to be a highly relational, highly intentional group of people. Our plan was to begin the practice of giving our lives away, together. Our hope was that we would see ourselves as sent into our relationships and our community (wherever that may be) in “the same way” as Jesus was sent: to love people and begin to bring the values and purpose of God’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s what it means to follow Jesus.
This last Sunday we didn’t gather for worship. But worship happened.
The unfortunate truth is that in our world, time is the most valuable commodity. We just don’t have much of it. And what we do have is mostly committed. So, instead of gathering for a time of worship on Sunday, we went out to use that time for a different kind of worship. Paul reminds us that we are to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world…” (Romans 12:1-2). Well, the pattern of this world is to drive into your home and close the garage door behind you, then sit behind your privacy fence and wish that your neighborhood felt more…like a neighborhood. Or to think about reaching out to people around us, but then getting so caught up in the stuff that occupies our lives and our schedules that we just…don’t. Paul’s counter-cultural encouragement is to be intentionally different. To use our gifts to bless others. To sincerely love the people around us. To serve the Lord zealously. To share what we have generously. And to practice hospitality. We want to do that every day of the week, not just on a token Sunday. But you have to start somewhere.
For some of us, it was a brunch with some folks they’d been meaning to connect with for a long time. For others, it was a camping trip where they pursued and invited people they wanted to get to know. Or a hike up Mill Mountain to build relationships and pick up a little trash on the way. Or offering respite for family by taking care of a disabled relative. In any case, it was a time where we practiced giving our lives away to invite, befriend, encourage, serve, and hopefully bless the people around us. Intentionally. Because that’s what Jesus did.
For Jen and I, we had a neighborhood brunch. It wasn’t rocket science. It wasn’t a project. It was just us trying to build relationships. We invited everyone in the neighborhood. And then we prayed that people would experience joy just because they came over. We asked the Holy Spirit to be present and encourage people who needed to be encouraged. We asked that God’s heart for people would be palpable when they walked in. And then we just enjoyed our neighbors. Almost all of them! All but two houses came…and stayed! Everyone was excited to be there–grateful for the invite and glad to be with their neighbors.
It was an awesome party…and it was an act of worship.
I was so encouraged by our church yesterday. Restoration was all over the area, intentionally following Paul’s instructions to give our lives away in acts of worship. It took different forms for different people. And it was different from a normal Sunday. But the bottom line is that we did what we planned to do from the beginning–intentionally give our lives away for the sake of others.
I love it when a plan comes together!