Last night I experienced "real" church.
We met in a friend's living room. I was surrounded by friends. Some I have known for over ten years, others for merely months. All friends. Caring people. Concerned for me.
I needed their care.
My 19-year-old has gone astray in a profoundly self-destructive manner and has even hurt others. I was in pain. I was in grief. I was in mourning. I was in shock. I was broken... and still am.
But I was with a group of friends... who know how to touch God and who know how to love on others.
Last night was my night to need that kind of lovin'.
I got it.
We turned our hearts toward God for awhile... and then two dear friends came over and began to wash my feet. "I wouldn't normally step out in this way," one friend said, "but I really believe God wants me to just be His hands caring for you by holding your feet."
I cried. I wept. I cried. I wept some more. Prayers spoken, words given, all helpful... but mostly I felt deeply and thoroughly loved. I wanted to take that love and somehow give it to my son... but he couldn't receive it right now... and it was for me. So I did my best to open my heart and receive it. I wept, and God's people loved me with His love.
That was real church. I will gladly invest my life with a group of people who want to be the church to one another rather than listen to (or give) a thousand awesome sermons where platitudes about brotherly love are given but rarely experienced.
This is not a statement of bitterness... I actually still love to preach. But it's simply an expression of my incredible gratitude that I get to live life within a community of believers where I am known and loved for who I am. It's awesome. For me, it's a necessity of life. Don't know how else I would hold up. I am profoundly grateful.