the broken, beautiful Church

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the Church is a damaged Bride.

you knew that, of course.  it's hardly a secret.

insecure.  defensive.  dramatic.  suspicious of outsiders and change.  lured by power and materialism.  fond of safety, labels, and easy answers.  wary of mold-breakers, questions, and gray areas.

and oh, the judgment!  are we as a Church known for anything quite so well?

my heart is heavy lately, burdened by tales of a profound lack of grace among the very people called by Christ's Name.  i read stories of deep woundedness inflicted by fellow believers and grieve.

i have no desire to quiet those voices which cry out and make us uncomfortable; we should share those difficult stories and shine Light in dark places.  if anything, let's make more room at the table for the hurting and the searching and the truth-in-love-tellers. 

but pain is not the only truth.  

the Church is a broken place for broken people, but it is also a place in which God dwells, recreating us together into the image of his Beloved.  we are still his Bride, whom he loves, and 

he is making something new and altogether beautiful out of those broken pieces.  his grace infuses our life together, and it is bigger and stronger than the sin that so easily entangles.

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if you've glimpsed grace-lived-out among the people of God--love, healing, community, any taste of God's Kingdom banquet this side of heaven--would you encourage us with your story of the broken, beautiful Church? 

i've wanted to bring back ShoutLaughLove, our tuesday storytelling link up and figured what better way to kick it off than with pictures of grace shared?  i've never done an "assignment" before, but i hope you'll join in anyway.  on tuesday, march 15, please link a story of God's love at work in the Church.  i don't mean four walls and a steeple:  our stories can be of Christians anywhere, reaching out in service, mercy, justice--any manifestation of grace in community.  if you're not a blogger, i hope you'll share your story, too, in the comments.

i am excited to encourage one another and give glory to God for the grace in our midst that even sin cannot thwart.

  In that day you will say:
 “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
   make known among the nations what he has done,
   and proclaim that his name is exalted.
 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
   let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
   for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." 
{Isaiah 12:4-6}

I have come with one purpose
to capture for myself a Bride
By my life she is lovely
by my death she’s justified

I have always been her husband
though many lovers she has known
So with water I will wash her
and by my Word alone

So when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone

‘Cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
You cannot care for me with no regard for her
If you love me you will love the Church

I have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
But she will feast upon me
she will drink and thirst no more

There is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
And though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be my Bride
{Derek Webb, The Church}
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