How much more, then, in our most profound times of need, disappointment and loss, do we need to look into the faces of those who have chosen to show up, offering the gift of their presence? Just the mere fact that they are here speaks volumes: the vibration of their voice, the comfort of their embrace, the assurance in their eyes, the fragile emotion reflected back to us in their faces - all visceral signs that we are not alone. We are seen, known and loved. No matter what we face, it is somehow less egregious if we face it together. Presence. The gift of presence. We simply cannot underestimate the power of showing up.
This not only applies to the highs and the lows of our lives, but to the mundane and everyday grind of our existence and to the persistent loneliness we feel as we seek meaning, purpose, and connection. For me, this is why the church exists. So that we can not only experience the community we were created for, but embody a place of hospitality and presence that calls to and welcomes those that are disenfranchised, hungry, lonely, and hurting. Meaning, me and you and all of us. To be human is to wake up everyday with the reality that we are fragile, desperately needy and just hoping that we can somehow stumble and grope our way through the dark to find a little remnant of hope, a vestige of meaning, and a respite of connection or at the very least some chocolate cake. This is my experience. Most days. Okay...today and pretty much every damn day.
As the practicing church, we are not trying to appease or cater to the dominant narrative of the gospel, the often compartmentalized, dualistic, consumerist, individualistic and thus small vision of what church looks like today. Rather, we are praying, groaning, wrestling and longing for the gospel to be reinterpreted holistically in our day, in our time, in our neighborhoods and places of work, in our faith community and in our lives -- to be good news. We are actually praying and longing along with many sincere and passionate Jesus followers today for the reformation and restoration of the church. This is not for the faint of heart or the casual onlooker. It will require us to show up and to show up big - to awaken to a whole new way of life. It will cost us everything and yet we are promised a new kind of life, a full life, a life of abundance. I hope that you will join us in this pursuit, that you will show up and offer the greatest gift you have to offer - the gift of your presence.