The last three days have seen the most amazing English conversations. Six people exchanging e-mails, speaking at least five different versions of English, honestly trying to understand each other. As one in the middle trying to bridge the conversations, I am not sure either side ever understood the other. The facts are often difficult to accept. First, words just do not mean the same things to different people. Second, your English is not always my English. Third, there are times when no matter how good people's intentions are they may not be able to find a solution.
There are the obvious differences in words between New York and England. Things that are getting worse in England are going pear shaped. You check your schedule, I my diary. You give me a call; I ring. You ask for a wrench and get a spanner. Football is worlds apart.
We often make the same assumption when it comes to describe our meetings with the Divine. When I say “church” there are immediate flashes and emotions. With church, it is usually formal buildings, often cold (because of the stone), usually old, frequently boring, and often nearly empty (except for Easter and Christmas of course!). I do not think the God I know easily recognizes the boundaries we place on the word.
God made a simple promise. “If two or three of you gather together, I am there.” Church is where we gather to worship the Divine and the Divine is present to receive our gift. If you add the words together as the equation outlines and church takes on a whole new meaning! Two or more gather together to express joy, confidence, anger, love, frustration, and hope in the Divine, God is present, and the rest is what church is defined to be!
Paul observed the true meaning of church and a shared journey. “All the non-Jewish gatherings of believers also owe them plenty, to say nothing of the church that meets in their house.” (Romans 16.4,5) Think about it! You are a church leader right where you are.