My mom tells stories of me, at a young age, insisting that we not skip church–which was more than tempting at times for the parents of three small children (and now that I now how much work it takes to get ONE child to church, let alone three, I get it). I loved to be at church from as young as I can remember.
For me, I don’t think it’s ever been about programs or music or format. I am equally thrilled worshiping at Catholic churches and Methodist churches and churches that don’t have a denominational tie. I love visiting churches. I love hearing about church in other places. I love wandering around other people’s church buildings. My love for church is simply this: I like worship spaces and I love worshiping God with God’s people.
This week, I’ve been at the UnConference. This place is filled with leaders and thinkers and lovers of God’s people from all over the denominational map. It is filled with deep and silly conversations, odd inside jokes about unicorns, bottles of wine, smartphones, iPads and laptops, color and life and (maybe most importantly?) hope.
This gathering is Church–Church in the fullest, most life-giving way I’ve experienced it.
Honesty comes naturally. Pretending is not necessary. Everyone’s welcoming and engaging. Each person has a story and there’s lots of time to tell yours and hear theirs. Worship is full of spontaneous moments and rich liturgy. It’s okay to go at your own pace and find God wherever that’s most meant to happen. Prayer happens at a table full of pipe cleaners, in a room where children are sitting under a table telling the story of Jonah, at a Friends’ Communion Service in the meditation space and outside in the rain. There is lots of noise. There is much silence.
It’s been amazing to be here.
I’m still thinking through conversations I’ve had and still trying to organize my thoughts and ideas and the things I’m taking when I leave here. I just know that I’m glad I am here and I’m looking forward to worshiping and being here tomorrow.