Alright, this is dangerous. I'm feeling just simply not ready to put things down on (cyber) paper yet. The Lausanne Blogger Network has been asked to write up some reflections post Cape Town 2010 and submit them before tomorrow, so here goes nothing.
I'm basically asking the question of myself that I so often ask other people, "What do you hear God saying?"
I got home only yesterday. Hugged my wife and kids. Talked. Distributed gifts. Eventually made my way to the bedroom for a nap. I had in my hand a copy of John H. Armstrong's new book, Your Church is Too Small. Now this is a bit odd in my mind. I know John. He lives in the same town as me. And . . . well, can I just confess to you that in the past couple years I've secretly thought that John was going a little bit crazy. With all his talk of "missional ecumenism" and everything. I had been putting off getting a hold of his book. In part because I have so much to read as it is. And in part because I feared it would finally confirm for me that John really has lost his mind.
But here's the thing. I'm hanging out in Cape Town sometime before one of the plenary sessions. Out of nowhere, Phil Miglioratti comes up to me and says something like, "Hey Cody, I think you need this." He hands me a copy of John's book.
This is the big thing for me, friends. God gathered His Church. Granted there were people not there that could have been and perhaps should have been, but this was something historic and wonderful. So, when I packed my bags late during my final night at the super cool Fire and Ice Hotel in Cape Town, I was sure to put my copy of Your Church is Too Small in my carry on.
I haven't finished it. But I read half of the the thing on my way home. Still hearing God emphasize the richness, diversity, and beauty of His Church -- the fullness of Him who fills all in all. So yesterday, it made sense for me to carry that book with me to my nap time. I only read a few more pages before my eyes started to get heavy with jet lag. I set it aside and began a sleepy meditation. I started thinking about the Church and how I had met God in the Church during the past week or so. I thought about Alvaro, Ruth, Knud, Rekha and the rest of my table group, Paco, Binny, Tek, Christy, Sadiri, Evvy, Niove and others. Soon my thoughts all sort of landed on one individual. Which is odd and a bit anti-John Armstrong, but for me, my experience with the Church was all really crystallized in my experience with one sister from East Africa.
1. The normal way that God meets our deepest felt needs is through His Church -- This has come to me in a very strong experience this week of being met by God's Church in a critical moment. I will really try to share the details later, but for now I will simply say that I was very much on the verge of having Cape Town 2010 turn into a total defeat for me personally. But God intervened through His own Church and just rescued me. I wept and wept on Sunday night during the closing ceremonies recognizing with joy that God had given me a tremendous victory. And now, as I consider all that could come from this congress through my life, I realize that it is because of God's Church.
2. Healthy and joy-filled relationships between God's people have Christ at the center and prayer woven throughout -- This doesn't require a lot of elaboration, does it? Reflecting on why my connections with certain people at Cape Town were so joyful and profound helped me to realize that it was because we kept Christ right in the middle of every conversation and encounter. And also that we prayed a lot. I'm challenged coming back to do the same. To look at my relationship with my wife first and then others around me. How do I get Christ in the center of all these relationships? How do we pray more?
There is more, but this is honestly all I can share at the moment. This is just where I am right now and everything else is still far too blurry. Keep praying for me as I reflect on all this. I believe that God has accomplished and begun a tremendous work through Cape Town 2010. It is very exciting to see fruit being born in my life. I am excited to see all that will result.