Christianity in America is a bit like the Disney Land of Religions. It's easy, fun and has every flavor of ice cream you could like. If you don't like any of the flavors, you are offered, you can go everywhere else to find your favorite. After all this is America.
Renovatus was my Disneyland when I first found this church. A place claiming to be for people like me: Liars, Dreamers, Misfits. I fit the bill and loved listening to the spunky preacher who had a similar background growing up like I had. This place claimed to be pentecostal but it was cool…. I had never seen that before and I liked it. I didn't have to embarrassingly shun what I had grown up in any longer but embrace it. It felt nice.
And then one day everything was taken from us. Our amusement park was no longer a happy, happening place but a barren, fragile wasteland and now the only ones left to run the machines were us awkward plan B people who didn't even know if they knew how to run these machines but we could try. We weren't "the cool" church anymore and all the cool kids happened to find other places to be all at once and we couldn't think of anywhere else to be. Maybe we missed out on the memo.
We were middle aged, tired, nothing special Attendees but we still had dreams. Yes, our church used to have waters flowing from every door and now all we had were little seeds of hopes springing up from a dry, cracked land. In this hard time we started living up to our name. Had we lied to ourselves thinking that the way of Christ was easy-breezy and about entertainment and blessing or were we more fond of our church culture in America: a place built on image more than authenticity. We had always preached our motto but now we were actually forced to live it when all we had were dreams and misfits. And we weren't so pretty as before.
Now I've learned, Christ's way is not an amusing one, but a hard, pruning painful way that in the end bares even more beautiful fruit then we could've dream up ourselves. I didn't find Christ in those Good Ole Days I found Christ in the ones where I needed to sink or swim. I needed to be all in or out. I was forced to look at myself and realize I needed pruning if I were to be of some use to His Kingdom. Hell, I didn't even really know what the Kingdom was until I found Christ in the wilderness. I found him in the place I didn't think he existed and to be honest: I really wasn't looking for him. He found me.
I was happy being a spectator but that wasn't good enough for Christ. He needed all of me and my faith in community too. Whether I wanted to be or not I knew it was the best way I would be whole but I also knew it wasn't an easy way. It's the way of suffering after all. It's not an amusement park and we could try and make it like that but in the end, Christ will come and tear down all our structures and entertainments and leave us with nothing except naked joy and bread; only we can find from Him and only when were starving.
He forces us to believe in Resurrection. Which sounds easy but very hard. When faced with Resurrection, all our demons come out to play and tell us we're not living in the glory days but we should believe that we are. It's the intense nights, that there doesn't look like any hope left and all is dead, that Christ shows up to us again. And he comes to the most unexpected and in the most terrifying way: through death. Death IS the answer and sometimes the only way to go. And we have to count it all blessing to die whether spiritual or physical for our Lord and Savior. Believing that is where we are set free.
Renovatus is still standing and I'm really glad I stood by her. I don't always know what would become of her but I had dreams for her and still do . She's somehow more beautiful in her limping and imperfectness; I'm finding my imperfections more appealing in her. Her destruction has somehow transformed into our resurrection and for that I am always thankful for her.