Our family loves board games. We are all extremely competitive which means the kids don’t get any mercy regardless of age, gender or the difficulty of the game. So you can imagine our joy when Steve was able to buy a heap of games at a local op shop for a $1 each.
One of these was ‘The Game of Life’. For anyone who grew up in the 80’s, this game was based on the traditional American dream of family life moving from leaving home (and getting a job or going to uni) all the way to the end where you retire and hopefully finish up with the large amounts of money. Each space provides you with different events and opportunities to both lose money and save money and a heap of fun. The unique part about this game Steve bought was that it was the Simpson’s version. My kids have never watched the Simpsons and until they are old enough to understand the satirical humour behind it they won’t be allowed to so playing this particular version of the game had it’s comical aspects because Steve and I understood some of the quirky additions to this game but the kids didn’t. Some things were best left in explained!
One of the funny spots on the game that nearly everyone lands on, is a square that reads:
‘Stop going to church
Feel guilty about it
Make a $ 90 000 donation’
This is a large amount of money and always leaves the player who lands on it groaning in exasperation. One of the kids said the first time we played it, how cool it would be if someone actually did give us that much money to make themselves feel better as it would really help make the new building even better. We did agree momentarily before challenging the idea as unbiblical. Landing on this space lead to much laughter and some great discussion.
For our family, not going to church is something that just would never happen. It would be a bit odd if Steve and I skipped church for a few weeks or only came on occasion. Hills church would have some issues. We had plenty of discussion about this particular spot on the game. Questions anout why people go to church, can you love and safe God without being a part of a church? Why do people feel guilty if they don’t go? Why do people not go? What makes a church a church? Why would people want to pay to get rid of their guilt?…..Great questions for kids who have never not gone to church.
I remember when we lived in Horsham, I had family from interstate staying with me; Ethan was just 8 months old and had a head cold and was teething, he was still wearing a helmet and we had had a big day out. Our church in Horsham had evening services that ran about the time Ethan was due for a feed, a bath and a bed, it was raining outside and it was going to take some effort to get ready. Steve had left for an early meeting and we had already decided I would stay home. It was 5:55 which meant, even if I did get ready we would be lucky to get to church on time and I felt this urgency to get myself and Ethan to church so I went gang busters to do so. I had every rational reason not to go but also every reason to go. So I did. I somehow knew underneath the surface of my rationally good reasons/ excuses, that I was not called to live on a rational level. I knew in my heart that there was no better place to be when you a tired or sick than in church. I can’t remember if Ethan settled well when I got home or even if I gave him a bath but I do remember the feeling in my heart and the encounter with God. There have been plenty of times when I have had to stay home from church and this is not about being religious. IT was so much deeper than that.
My simple choice to move past my excuses and get myself in a better place was just that ..a choice. I made a choice as a weary mum, that from that day on, that when it came to ‘church’, I would do my best to position myself in the context of community whenever there was an opportunity to do so. That decision when I only had one child and life felt re complicated than it acutally was, was not easy but has helped me choose many times since, to position myself according to what me and my family need not what I am feeling or dealing with in the moment. That ability to make a choice based on values not feelings has become a deciding factor for many things that I choose to do.
So Hills Church is in a new season. We have just moved into our new building.
It is exciting to be in our new church building but when you think about it, it is just a big room with four walls. What is exciting is not the building as much as what that building has in store and the stories yet to unfold.
How many people will have their first experience of ‘church’ in this building? or their first encounter with the presence of the Holy Spirit?
How many will leave burdens, sorrows and dispair behind in this building?
How many people will be healed in this building?
How many baby dedications, wedding and funerals will be held in this building?
How many will lift thief hands in worship and connect with e presence of God during a worship song in this building?
How many will hear a scripture or a song or a word from God that gives them a taste of heaven? Who knows what crazy youth nights are in store for our teenagers. for represent youth and kids encountering Jesus ?
How many people will receive prayer and answers to prayer in this building?
How many prayers will be heard in heaven in this building?
How many prophetic words and sermons will be delivered in this building?
How many will receive new hope, new direction, new perspective, new vision in this building? How many cups of tea will be served?
How many missionaries, pastors and teachers will be sent from this building? How many friendships will be started?
How many people will discover their gifts in this building?
How will your story be impacted by what happens to you in this building?
This is not just a building….it is an opportunity for our story to continue to be written well and a legacy of faith to be built for the future.
How will your story be impacted by what happens inside these four walls?
My prayer for this building is it will be remembered for the powerful stories of hope and grace that unfold within it’s walls and in your life and families lives.
My prayer for you is the same prayer that I have my own kids….that you will never know a time in your life when church is not a place you long and love to be a part of and that your story is impacted by the grace, strength, encouragement, love and joy that you encounter in that context.
There are bound to be challenges and obstacles but we get to choose how we write this story.
Have you got someone in your circle of friends who needs Jesus. This new building is simply a great context for them to encounter him.
You can be what someone else needs in order to change their story.
‘ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, but encouraging one another—’