15 October 2008

Come and Listen (intro)

On their album A Collision, the David Crowder Band performs a song called "Come and Listen". "Come and listen," Crowder sings, "come to the water's edge, all you who are weary. Let me tell you what He has done for me."

At Mars Hill, this is one of our favorite things to do: Come and listen. We tell the story of the Bible as our story, as the story of God setting our redemption in motion through Jesus. The story of the Israelites and God is not just a story that happened long ago. It is a story that continues today. It is a story that can be told through our lives, and our world: it is our story. And we love to hear stories of people encountering God, to hear what He has done for us.

When we talk about God moving in our own lives, we frame it in the context of the Biblical narrative, much like the way different subplots of a novel find their context within the novel itself. We find ourselves caught up in the Story, a Purpose that is larger than ourselves, larger even than our families or our churches, or even our religious traditions. It is the story of what God did through Israel, and continues to do through Jesus in us and through us.

When we read then about God hearing the cry of the Israelite slaves, it is not just a story in Exodus. God continues to hear the cry of the oppressed even today. When we read that God brought Israel out of bondage with "signs and wonders", we know that He does the same today. God brings us, His chosen people, His holy nation, out of the bondage we suffer with signs and wonders. Today. You. Me. All of us. All of Creation.

Every once in a while, we have a Baptism Sunday at church. We used to have it at a nearby lake, and the preachers would get down in the water and whomever wanted to come down could have the opportunity. Very quickly, we couldn't hold it at the lake anymore, because too many people were showing up. People were making a picnic out of it, go to the lake for the afternoon, bring food, and worship and cheer for those being baptized. Now we have them in the Shed, the room where we hold our gatherings. We have a massive pool put on stage, and the people being baptized write a short little story about why they're doing this, and we have people read the cards as they are getting baptized. This goes on for the full service, three times for that Sunday.

And would you believe that these are some of the busiest Sundays? Obviously, people bring their families to celebrate, but much of it is simply the community wanting to take part, to hear the stories, and to celebrate God moving in our midst. The stories we hear are terrible, beautiful, tragic, hopeful, and everything in between. The powerful ways God is moving through these lives is testimony enough to cure most any skeptic. We hear the stories of oppression, of slavery, of death. And then we see these people freed from that bondage and death, marking their Exodus with baptism. If you ever start to think that God has moved on, give me a call, and show up at Mars Hill on a Baptism Sunday. The healing that takes place is phenomenal-even for those who just come and listen.

Come and listen, and I will tell you a story. It is the story of God rescuing His people from oppression. It is the story of God stepping into human history and redeeming it to His purpose.

It is my story.

It is Shannon's story.

It is Elijah's story.

It is God's story.


1 comment:

jimkastkeat said...

well said. you make me like our church even more!