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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

These Early Days Living with a Virtual Church.

I wrote in an earlier blog concerning some of the weirdness I was experiencing launching imagine/northampton after living in Simsbury. I've noticed another kind of weirdness I am experiencing. It shows up when I have conversations about our church most of which does not yet exist in space and time. Imagine is a compelling idea for us, a hope, a God-sized dream, but not a reality beyond the thought, and I am not just referring to having a building.

I wonder if this weirdness is most centered in the talking about something that isn’t as if it is. Such talking feels a bit like living in a parallel universe. I am fully beside something that I can “see,” and conceive. It exists for me, but in a world of its own with no temporal location. I refer to it, and describe it with passion and conviction. But imagine still a could-be entity that may very likely turn out quite differently from how I envision it now.

This weirdness is marked for me when it takes on a life of its own. When I hear other people refer to imagine it strikes me odd, like “oh yeah, someone else is relating to it in a way I don’t.” They have their own conception sans any real-time experience of it as a community or place. How peculiar. We are connecting through a phantom of sorts, a shared idea without a shared experience. Maybe it’s a shared hope connecting longing with possibility – a “what if” that matters to people.

Compounding my experience are the many challenges we face in seeing imagine take concrete form. We have a ways to go before it does. Sometimes imagine feels absurdly beyond our reach. How will God do it? Is he really going to? Who do we think we are to actually pull this off? Did we get it all wrong and now we run a mad dash for nowhere? After all, most of the team is in Simsbury still with no end in sight. The money we have available remains piddling. Everyone is stretched by workloads, the economy, family, looking for jobs, crunched time . . . . on and on it goes.

But the deal is: we are infected. This virtual church and the God who breathed and lovingly animates it even in its virtual state have captivated our hearts . . . . hands down. We’re in, period. In fact, I love talking about it to people. I get jacked when I do. The longing is overwhelming sometimes. Its like, “Look at this! See it? Come along!”

Weirdness aside, it has become my church and I want it to be the church of anyone God has his eye on or his hands around. The team, Tricia, and I have decided to follow Jesus and bring it into being with him. We may not know every jot and tittle of being this church, but we have made ourselves available to Jesus and imagine -- his idea waiting the full unfolding of its kairos.

Someday very soon, the weirdness will subside and I think wonder and gratitude will takes its place. At least, I want it to. To see people of all kinds gathered together, discovering the God who is exquisitely more than they ever imagined, loving him with deep hearts, and loving all/everyone he loves will be more than I could hope for in this last leg of my journey with him.
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