Friday, May 17, 2013

Fellowship With One Another

Recently the youth group I help lead got to hear a guest speaker talking about his work as an aviator missionary in Mongolia. It was very interesting to hear about the various flights he has made as well as about the culture of the country he serves in.

After his talk, there was a question and answer period, and he was asked about the church in Mongolia, and if there is anything the North American church could learn from them.

He said in Mongolia the church has no denominations. He said we could learn to put aside our differences and focus on what unifies us - the gospel, loving people.

No denominations. I can barely imagine what it is like to have no denominations. I never really considered that outside of North America there are places where the Church does not experience the same fragmentation that we do here. I am so used to being divided by secondary issues, that it truly surprised me to think about a Christian community that does not define itself by the details of what it believes outside of Christ.

All of this made me me think of a quote I read in The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith. He writes, "We simply must not divide over things we cannot fully understand. Especially in light of the fact that what we can understand, what is not a murky mystery but a blinding truth, is something we can all agree on: Jesus is Lord! If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship." Our differences of opinion on the things we can only partially understand do not override our unity on the one essential thing we do understand. Again Smith says, "If you do not look, act, worship or believe as I do, but your heart beats in love for Jesus, then regardless of our differences, we can and must have fellowship with one another."

What does it look like to have fellowship with one another, regardless of non-essential beliefs? It would not be merely putting up with each other. It would mean genuinely having community with each other - love, growth, mutual grace and taking care of one another. It would mean understanding that there are a diverse number of ways to faithfully follow Christ. It would mean being humble enough to recognize that my own understanding of Scripture and of who God is, is still just a best attempt at truly seeing the truth, and that we have a more complete picture together.

I looked up the word fellowship, and one of the things I found was that it is directly related to the words communion and community. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are in community with every other follower of Jesus. We are united around Christ, around His grace and love. We are united around the sacrifice He made which broke his body and shed his blood for our redemption. We are united around the table, around remembering and celebrating Christ. We are a diverse, beautiful group of people that have fellowship based on Jesus Christ alone.

If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Joys and Scars of Motherhood

This morning I am feeling grateful that I was able to celebrate Mothers Day yesterday for the first time as a Mom. It has been great to celebrate my Mom in the past as a daughter, but now I'm also one of the ones being celebrated. This past ten months has been a wild ride but so full of laughter, fun and love. It's something you can never go back from. No matter where life leads now, I will always be a mother.

One thing I have been contemplating leading up to Mothers Day is that motherhood inevitably includes both joy and scars. The joy comes in millions of moments like your first ultrasound, holding your baby for the first time, a first year filled with many firsts - smiling, rolling, crawling, walking. There is joy in watching your children grow, develop their own personality and identity, learning and becoming amazing people along the way. The joyful moments are plenty, but there are also moments that cause scars.

For some, motherhood includes the scars of waiting, longing, and even losing.
There are the physical scars of growing, stretching and giving birth.
There are life changes and personal sacrifices that can never fully be anticipated.
There are heart battle wounds from needing to discipline your child, from watching them make mistakes and get hurt, and from moving from being their closest companion to seeing them be embarrassed by you in front of their friends.
There are the bittersweet mile markers of a life-long process of your child becoming an independent adult that include everything from taking your child to daycare to helping them move out after high school to watching them start a life of their own.

Being a mother is a beautiful thing. But even in my first year of it there has been both joy and pain, both memories that I will cherish all my life and scars that will always be a part of who I now am.

So whether you have given birth to a child, raised a child or even just longed for a child, Happy Mothers Day! Be aware of God's presence with you through all the moments motherhood brings.