Follow me here…In the mountains of Colorado, one might find himself, in the early morning hours, staring at a bird in the branches of a pine tree, and that bird might be singing a frail yet powerful song as the breaking rays of the day's first light rush past illuminating the small creature. He might then realize that it is neither the pine tree, nor the sun, nor even the bird in itself that creates this magnificence, but rather it is the way in which all work together in their mere being to reflect and shine out the glory of God; they exist; they dwell; they are. Their mere identity in creation makes them.
As I sit in the community building of the site 2 church here in Juarez, my mind is captured by the captivating scene which I can only relate to that of a singing bird. For a brief second, I find myself watching the members of this church, and I am astounded at their liveliness – their realness. For but a moment, a haze is lifted from my tired brain, and I have awakened to life with renewed clarity on the vibrancy of God’s humanity through the interplay of these people. It is as if I am watching a grandiose painting coming to life; as if beauty itself is being manifested from a picture; as if I could dwell, in the purest sense, within the manifestation of the most wondrous imagination. In my panoramic and continuous view, I see – I think – the very face of the church. In one corner sits Maggie, a smiling elderly lady. She is quietly singing an awe-inspiring Spanish hymn to herself. Another older man, Antonio, just stands around reflecting the wisdom of his years as well as the true nature of his gruff exterior marked by the frailty of years. Pastor Jorge buzzes to and fro playing with the kids and laughing with the people. One member grills tacos to enjoy. The kids are playing and teasing each other. There is an abundance of joyful conversation. People are living together. God is manifesting himself. The church is being revealed.
This forces me to necessarily think on the times when, in my own church at home, we too had an aura of truth and beauty around us, and I found the more I thought of it, the more I believed it to be similar moments as these. We weren't the church when we were trying to put together relevant worship services, when we sang the latest song, when we had new and swank art shows, nor when we took up any sort of post-modern rhetoric. All these things positively played into the way we worked out our identity, but it was in those times when we shared our hurts, reveled in one another's beauty, struggled with one another's flaws, when we ate together, sang together, and lived together that we most became the bride of Christ.
As the singing lark – perched steadily upon a low pine branch – whistles its endemic and coercive tune, arguing in its mere existence the presence of the almighty, so too do the people of God supplant any temple or dogmatic worship, and by doing so, reflect in their community and existence the true nature of a loving deity.