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Beyond Cheers

In one day I met with three remarkable individuals.  The first was a 56 year old woman who is new to our church.  She is full of life and vim and vigor.  I think she’s going to be a lot of fun.  Hungry to grow and ready to jump in to be a part of the church.  She’s been to worship with us 3 times.  The third time she was making coffee.  So…she’s all-in.

She shared with me that her therapist recommended Embody because it’s different from the other churches she’s been to.  I wouldn’t have said that, but the therapist can say whatever he/she wants to :).  She had been struggling with becoming more and more reclusive.  Just her and her dogs and it was becoming a problem.  So, she took what for her was a titanic step: going to a new church alone.  She recognizes that she needs to be around other Christians – other people with whom to walk the walk.  Alone doesn’t cut it.

The next person I met with is named Dale.  He works at a local metal fabrication shop.  I went to see him because recently his bride got really sick.  I might be the only pastor he knows.  As far as I know he doesn’t have a church family.  That’s not the point I want to share with you.  What I want you to know is that his wife is OK, but his friend (one of his only and best of friends) just had a heart attack.  He shared with me that he needed to be with his friend through the hard time because his friend was with him through so many.

The third person I met with has a heart for the displaced and the least of these.  She told me about a recent trip to the doctor.  She was waiting for a mammogram and across the waiting room was a woman in her twenties who just emminated “sad”.  My friend greeted the younger woman and asked how she was.  Hardly raising her lowered head, “Fine” – a lie.  Five minutes later this: “This is my second mammogram today, and I’m really scared.”  My friend walked across the waiting room, sat down, and held her hand.

Three people for whom friendship means something deep, something unfathomable, something of uttermost importance.  Whether it is the thing to be feared the most – a thing to hide from, or something that is solidified over a heart attack, or something found in a radiology waiting room from a complete stranger.  Friendship, and especially spriritual friendship, means that we don’t walk the face of the earth alone.

And this is what Embody desires to be.  This is the value of an authenticity and vulnerability that is necessary for church to have.  A place where people know who you are, and walk with you through the joys and sorrows.  More than just a place “where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came”.  Moving beyond what the world has to offer into the “precious other” that we can be in Christ for one another.

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