This past week I heard a few things (one via email) that made my heart leap for joy. Let me share them with you:
1. Humility, servanthood, community.
On Saturday night, one of our elders broke the news to the Oasis congregation regarding our family’s plans to move back to the States in June. In summarizing what Oasis is all about, he mentioned these three words: humility, servanthood and community. That made me very happy.
Earlier last week, someone recommended I read a particular book. In explaining why he recommended it, he said, “It’s a great story of Grace, which I know is near and dear to your heart.” It seriously made me feel good to know that my grace-addiction shows enough that new friends pick up on it easily.
Then, on Saturday night, Warren spoke. Warren is also an elder at our church. I’ve known him for 10 or 11 years. He gave a great sermon that championed all the things Oasis is about, the things I hope will endure after our departure. The last word in his sermon was ‘grace”. That made me want to jump up and shout, “YES!”
3. The church being the church.
The final thing that made me want to leap for joy happened Monday afternoon. It was a conversation with someone who wrote me saying, “I want to become a member of Oasis.” I called her and explained to her how glad I was that she’d decided to be a regular part of our community, but I told her that I wanted her to know that we were leaving in June and…
“I hope that doesn’t change your mind about joining Oasis.”
She said, “I already knew that you were leaving.”
I said, “Oh, really? When did you find out?”
She said, “I had dinner with Jay and Carolyn and they told me.”
I said, “Oh, great. So that means you still want to be a member, then?”
She said, “Yes. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re here or not.”
Now, normally you would think this would discourage someone, but I actually found her comment encouraging because that means we’ve done the right thing: we’ve helped start a church that isn’t about the pastor or the staff or a church building or the offering tally. We’ve built a church where the people of God minister to each other so well that the “official” pastor can up and leave and the people of God will carry on without missing a beat. That did my heart good.
She pointed out that starting a church that can carry on without its pastor is rare. She added: “That isn’t easy to do.”
I said, “No, no, it isn’t. You’re right.”
And then she said, “But you’ve really done it and that is really something.”
I thanked her for her encouragement.
Grace and community: they really can gladden one’s heart.