One of the great conversations that flow from those inside the walls to those who have joined the journey of the wild wanderers is about belonging or being a part of something, particularly with reference to a local Body of believers. To not neglect the coming together is being translated as being part of a church and going on a regular basis to one particular group. Becoming a member one of another by signing a membership pledge and getting that sense of belonging by regularly gathering in the same place at the same time with the same people sometimes two, three times a week, maybe even more. They shout about verses referencing being part of a local church and that that is the only kind of way that Christian’s relate and meet and function. To be outside of that model is to be outside of the will and purpose of God and to live the life of a lone ranger or an island. No man is an island!!! Neglecting the gathering together is to neglect the safety net of accountability and relationship with others. On those first few steps outside the structured church system those words can cut deep, wound, cause confusion, sow doubt, cause rebound back into the four walls, make us believe we have it wrong, make us feel like rebels without a cause. This is a painful part of the journey that must be worked through in as much grace as possible. It will cause the loss of some relationships and there will be a sense of being cut off and marginalised. What we thought were close friendships will over-night come to a close. This can be a lonely place and make us feel that maybe what has been spoken over us is true. There is a sense where we need to belong, after all God said to Adam in paradise, “it is not good for man to be alone”, and that was in the perfect union with the Father. What I have discovered though is that God will bring a fresh sense of community and a fresh interpretation as to what that means. Through social networking, meeting others by chance ;), recognising those already placed in our lives around us day by day and many other unique ways, God starts to reconnect the disconnected. In some ways we wake up to the fact that maybe we were never totally disconnected in the first place, just unplugged from the system or as some call it the Matrix. My family, my work colleagues, my friends, other wanderers, writers, other marginalised people, all of a sudden community is all around me. I belong nowhere as part of any club or church, and yet I find I belong everywhere. I never stop for a second belonging. Even to those of you who read my scribbles, we belong together, joined by a blog world that creates relationships and connectivity. Some of my greatest relationships ever have come out of just recording the journey into a seemingly impersonal cyber world. I’m always being joined together with others. I’m always being gathered together. Infact it never seems to stop. If you ever doubted it for a second let me shout it from the mountaintop, you belong, you are a part of the Body of Christ, you are connected, you are part of what God is up to locally, nationally and globally. You are a functioning joint where you are. I cut off from you any negative word that has ever been spoken over you concerning being a loose canon or an island. I cut off any doubt or sense of missing the mark. We are part of each other, maybe marginalised by man, but at the centre of all that God is up to. We are part of one another.
Wherever I Lay My Hat, That’s My Home.
Walking and accepting this you begin to realise that others may think you are homeless and disconnected, but in reality what is happening is that the landing places of your feet become home. As one old but good song says, ‘wherever I lay my hat that’s my home’. The world becomes my cathedral, the connectivity with the whosoever becomes my church. You find yourself as a wild wanderer and yet one with many places of abode. Home is where my heart is, and as long as my heart is after the things of God and for people, where our hearts beat is home. Belonging nowhere for man to manipulate and control, and yet belonging everywhere. Even as I think over this past week I have had the privilege to see one of my ex-night shift colleagues get baptised in an evangelical church. He became a Christian in October last year. Did any of our conversations play a part in that? Did my salt and light in the workplace touch somewhere deep in him? I may never know but what a thrill to see him going through the waters of baptism. To be a part of his special night was amazing. So much I could not relate to personally in the style of hymn/prayer stuff, but more and more I see through the form and see the people. For that night I landed there and joined with other Asda colleagues, some Christians, others maybe not yet, to see our friend taking this step in his journey. Why has God led him to that church and not just into relationship with Father? That is not for me to answer, and maybe not even for God to answer for Himself, but all is part of journey to continue to unfold. That night that place was home because that is where I landed. Tuesday evening Allison and myself were invited by a friend to join her in her home with a few others to celebrate Purim. This woman and a few others have been walking the feasts and festivals of the Scriptures for many years now, seeing something of the restoration of all things in the rhythm of old. We went along and gathered with about 6 other people. We ate and laughed and heard stories and shared life, and shared about the redemption and deliverance of Israel through Esther and Mordecai. Reminded of our great Deliverer and how God works amongst the marginalised and the silenced. For that night this was home. Belonging together. Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home.
Shape-shifting Flight Path.
Every week has a different shape. This next week I may have no organised gathering places but that does not stop the gathering. Those times with Allison and the boys, those moments at work around the canteen and in the aisles, random gatherings on street corners and in the shops and streets, signs of belonging everywhere. Facebook conversations, phone-calls with friends and fellow wanderers, e-mail notes of encouragement and hope, all times where sinews are joined together and the Body functions with words of hope and love and acceptance. In fact when I really think about it, it is virtually impossible to really disconnect from everything. Even when I lay my bed in the depths He is there! Even when I hide in a cave, there are hundreds more Cave dwellers hidden somewhere ready to be connected into the story. Adullum’s cave was the place of amazing reconnection and hope for David. So where do I belong? Nowhere and everywhere. Connected in more ways than I could ever imagine. In my mind sometimes so isolated and yet through God’s mind so connected. I thank God that I am connected to you.