Originally I was planning to skip church today – church as in a conventional church service at my stepson Jason’s church – complete with big screen projection system and no couches, recliners or big pillows on the floor, like I’m used to. I needed to get in my last long training run before next Sunday’s Minneapolis Half-Marathon.
But Jason and his wife Erika invited us, enthusiastically, several weeks ago to join them any Sunday. But with my long run already planned and my disdain for “regular church”, I opted to stay home to run and enjoy a little Scott-time while Minda and Andrew joined them in Eagan at Chapel Hill Church.
But almost immediately I felt conflicted and convicted. No doubt, we could all use an infusion of God-time; since stepping away from our home-church to follow the mission God has set before us, we are often times “wandering and wondering” what we are supposed to do in this mission of “loving people. Plus, we wanted to honor Jason’s heartfelt invitation and support Erika in her new found trust in Jesus. What better way to “love people” than to love Jason and Erika?
But real church? Yuck!
I love Jason. Jason the man is as interesting and likable as Jason the boy was challenging and dramatic. Seeing his faith – which was apparent even as a 10-year-old boy – grow rock solid is inspiring. His heart is big, and he loves God and His church home in Eagan. And to see him lead his new wife to Christ, as his mother did with me, is exciting and heartening.
But till I went to bed Saturday night planning to run the next morning. And then I had this dream.
Like most “God-dreams”, the context was vague, the preamble sort of fuzzy, but what I remember was flipping through the pages of a notebook and then pointing to one page and telling whomever I was showing, “See, God told us that this commandment was above all the others: Love one another.” And then I promptly
awoke. God does that; He knows if He doesn’t I’ll probably forget the dream by morning’s light.
As we sipped our coffee, I told Minda that I could map out a running route through Eagan that ended at Chapel Hill Church to get my 6 miles in and she could bring a change of clothes for me. Ever the pragmatist, she suggested I run immediately and grab a quick shower at home before we headed out.
So I ran, showered and we headed to church. “Real church.”
We pulled into the parking lot to be greeted by the marquee – Love is God. Hmmm.
And then there was the program, with the quoted Scripture of John 4:7-9
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.)
And then the service began – focused entirely on…loving people. The “sermon” was 5 minutes of instruction – “stop talking about it and start loving people” – and then we spent the next 20 minutes greeting and talking and sharing with people we had never met. And it was good, warm, sincere greeting and meeting and loving God’s children.
How much reassurance did God think I needed to know that was what He wanted me to understand!?
First the dream to clarify and magnify His directive. And then an example and practice session in a real church that didn’t feel like a real church.
It felt like a home church. And I'm really glad I listened to God's latest direction: "Go to church today."