I’ve been wondering why God has made this unique connection between Lucy and me during study breaks. For the past several years, a vaguely familiar beach walker has become a good friend. Why have I connected more and more with this 86-year-old beach dweller from Clarksville, TN? Why do we talk about everything under the sun for about three miles each morning? What’s the purpose of this?
This morning Lucy seemed to stop and talk more than usual. Maybe it was the blustery north wind kicking up the waves that made it harder to hear. Maybe it was an attempt to prolong our walks with my study break having only a few days left. I don’t know. Why do I get so intrigued by the phrases and quips of this seasoned island girl? I asked Lucy how she maintains her strong health. She answered, “I don’t talk about it. You’ll never get an organ recital when you get my Christmas letter.” (I had to think about that one for a sec.) She was talking about a former pastor at the local Baptist church she attends. Lucy remarked, “He was a dynamic speaker, but he had the morality of a small, green pea.” She was wearing a well-worn t-shirt this morning that said, “We are not good because we are old, we are old because we are good.”
What’s this connection and intrigue about? Lord, what’s your intent here? Why has this elderly woman been woven into my annual time of renewal and study?
James 5:13-20 was an intriguing passage for my early morning hunger. Jesus’ brother seems to be integrating our spiritual walk with our everyday walking about. If there’s trouble, pray. If you’re happy, worship. If you’re sick, pray with an elder. Elijah was a normal man like you and me. He lived, walked about, and God did crazy supernatural things. The text is so laid back, so everyday life, and yet so very powerful.
It’s exactly what seemed to be missing at Victory church we attended last Saturday night here in Florida. There was much hype, jumping, money creeds, shoutin’, and Jesus words… but what was life like for these people outside their emotional arena? I wondered if their gathering affects remained as the individuals scattered throughout the week.
And then it hit me… that’s the point of Lucy. Integrating my spiritual walk into my everyday walk as I walk along the beach with someone I barely know… is exactly the point. The “go” of making disciples points to integrated spirituality “as you go.”
I finished “AND – The Gathered and Scattered Church” today. I blew through this book with great appreciation for the “genius of the and” attached to the Church gathering and scattering as laid out by Halter & Smay. There is a harmonious tension related to going into the community missionally, and gathering the saints for worship. So many have taken hard sides on both sides of this coin. It really has eroded into an either/or argument. I read a book two study breaks ago (The Shaping Of Things To Come) which believed all established churches must die, and only new, missional church plants will be successful as western Christendom moves forward. I SO refused to believe that. It’s a simple matter of serving beyond our walls, and gathering to continue inspiring people to serve and give ourselves away.
We’ve begun this outward push at Cumberland. We’ve established 4-5 annual F.I.A. Sundays where we make Church not about the church. We are taking more and more people cross-culturally and around the world as a part of giving themselves away. We are planting an inner-city, incarnational church plant with Chris & Leah Case.
Some wonder how CCC will sustain all of this giving ourselves away. Halter and Smay write: “It’s a known statistic that the churches that give away, that take risks, that send out, and that sacrificially push their people out, create vacuums that God fills with even more.”
And so we gather to bask in the glory of God, and for the purposes and people outside our gatherings where we scatter. This is our key to moving ahead at CCC. “The church is beautiful when she is sent, and the sent church will always be beautiful when she gathers in a way that highlights and complements her sending nature.”
How will we lead and motivate the folks of Cumberland to go beyond an F.I.A. Sunday? How can we keep pushing outward until spirituality is integrated into all we do? In what ways will we encourage each other to die and live for others? “AND – The Gathered and Scattered Church” concludes by saying, “This beautifully sent and gathered church cost Jesus his very life, and it is certainly worth our best efforts.”
Our best Kingdom efforts will be as we go… walking… listening… taking someone, even a stranger, out for a normal, supernatural meal. We picked Lucy up at 6:30 tonight for dinner. She gave me the gate code to her gated community. Amazing. Longhorn Steak House is just what this S.M.U grad ordered up. Isn’t this scattering stuff great and adventurous? I’ll tell you all about it when we gather come Sunday.