Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Never Alone

Ascension from the Rabbula Gospels.

What can you say when
There's much too much to be said;
Verbosity stinks.
--My haiku on having to give a blog update after too long of a gap

Since the last time one of us wrote, I have since traveled to Florida for school, together we went to Indiana for vacation, and now we are in the throes of change. These things are all happening simultaneously:

  • Our close friend and compatriot Jon is moving out of Okoboji to Wyoming (which might as well be Mars, in our mind). Which means goodbyes. Which means tears.
  • We are moving out of our current condo and going to be renting a house about 4 miles north of us. Which means packing. And taking down wallpaper and painting at the new place. And then taking what we've packed out of one upstairs-and-up-a-winding-staircase location into a much-easier-to-move-into location. (Who wants to help?!)
  • I am wrapping up my second semester of grad school. Which means papers and final exams.
  • We are moving our church's worship location from our Julia campus to the Tabernacle for the summer. Which means long work weeks, lots of untangling of XLR cables, and the annual experience of discovering the ghosts in the system.
  • We are launching our Pilot Missional Community, which means organizing a gathering of 35 adults and 18 children into meaningful gathering of worship, learning, fellowship, and mission.
As I compile these things into a list, it can seem a little daunting. Not to mention, it can make you want to shake your first at...whatever it is you like to shake your fist at. Because why on earth do all these things need to happen in the same 31 day period?

I've been considering the Ascension of Jesus recently. It is celebrated 40 days after Easter,  so this year it will be Thursday, May 17 (and/or the Sunday of May 20). It is a time to meditate on Christ's final instructions to the church, the (delivered) promise of the Holy Spirit, as well as the promise of Jesus' return.

What I'm thinking about currently is Jesus' promise, "I am with you always, even the end of the age," (Matthew 28:20). The thought that we are never alone, never left by ourselves to deal with the up's and down's of life is (here comes an understatement) encouraging. Downright uplifting. Jesus' presence is with us; the Holy Spirit of God makes us His tabernacle, and the whole earth is filled with God's glory (Isaiah 6).

But in yet another stroke of genius, Christ is with us in another way than a spiritual sense. Jesus setup His church to act as His presence on this earth. In fact, the church is meant to be the very body of Christ. When people ask, "Where is God?" in fact they are asking perhaps the harder-to-answer question, "Where was God's church?" But on the flip-side, when we are looking for God's presence, protection, and love we need look no further than the Bride, the Church itself.

So when I think of us moving, us saying goodbye to a dear friend, us launching a fresh, never-done-before ministry at our church, we take heart in the fact that we are not alone. We never were and we never have to be. The very Body of Christ, His presence, manifest in the church (local and universal) is here with, strengthening, bolstering, and helping us.

And that (here comes an understatement) is encouraging.