Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Few Happenings...

My Church (family) in Sweden

Hello Everyone! I thought it was about time I updated you on a few more happenings going on these days in my little life here in Sweden. I really just feel like one of the family now-- and not just Mike and Brona's family, but our church family too. I've never been in such a church-- so close, so family-like. I imagine this is what the early church looked like-- believers from every walk of life meeting together and praising the Lord together and eating together and sharing one another's burdens and praying for one another and carrying on the relationships by intertwining their lives throughout the week as well! I am excited by it, and I am blessed by it.

Terri-Anne and Sian and I
Sorinella, Brona and I
A meal after church one Sunday
My Church (Challenges) in Sweden

It doesn't come without its challenges, for me at least. Mike is always asking me to step one foot more out of my comfort zone, and sometimes a few feet at once. On Sunday this week, I was sort of thrown on to a rag-tag worship team that went to another area church to lead worship, then Mike and Eddie and I did the worship back at our own church (to be honest, I can never get enough of worship... It's just doing it up front that causes me to pause!), then I led Communion! Ugh! I hate hate hate being up front and especially when it means speaking on the spot... But I'm hoping that the more I'm able to say Yes without hesitating to things asked of me by human leaders, the more quickly I'll say Yes to things asked of me by God! And it was beautiful to see how God was moving in the hearts of each of us speaking in church that day to give us a common theme without any of us actually speaking to one another about it beforehand!
When I told Mike I would do Communion I was thinking, "What?! I don't even know how I feel about Communion, let alone how to lead it when I'm not comfortable leading ANYTHING!!" Haha. So, I took it to God and basically said, as I was opening my bible to read about the Last Supper, "Look, this is Your thing, not mine. I can't do it, so You're going to have to." To be honest, I've never really understood why believers who live in grace keep on perpetuating this ritual. Growing up in church, I've taken more communions than I can count and over the past few years I began to feel uncomfortable with how... blase and routine it felt each month to drink the little glass of juice representing Christ's blood and nibble the tiny bit of bread representing Christ's body. I can still hear the oft-spoken, "This do in remembrance of Me" on the lips of my whole church together once a month all my life. Doing Communion this Sunday gave me a chance to actually sit down and say, "Hey God, I don't get it. You say to us 'You worship me with your mouths but your hearts are far from me' and certainly Communion has become just such a thing."

As I was praying the first verse He brought to mind was 1 Cor. 1:30. Speaking about Christ it says, "He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy and He gave Himself to purchase our freedom." That simple.

Then I read Luke 22:19-20 which is simply an account of the Last Supper and God answered my questioning heart asking a sincere 'Why' with: We do this because Christ asked us to do it in rememberance of what He's done for us. He reminded me that He often asked Israel to set up visual reminders of things He'd done for them-- like a stack of rocks at a certain place in the desert to show that this is where He'd performed a miracle to provide for them. Reminders of His faithfulness. Because He knows what we're like as humans, how easily distracted we are.

Suddenly, He showed me at least, that Communion is not some dry religious ritual some tradition set up by the church that we follow legalistically. But a regular chance to take the space to encounter a living, breathing God who loves You so much-- in all your sin, in all your faults, in all your un-acceptability-- to die to make you pure and holy and acceptable so that He could keep you near to Him for all eternity.

That's the God we're remembering through this. And Communion is a reminder set up to remind us to seek Him, and in His faithfulness He will be found...

"And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him."
--Deut. 4:29

Substitute Teaching??

He showed me a bit more of His faithfulness and provison this week in completely unexpected ways. My friend from church, Terri-Anne, is headteacher at a little International 'Dagis'-- which is the excellent Swedish system of preschool/daycare. She was in a panic on Sunday because she was short a teacher for Monday and she asked me if I would step in and volunteer. The term 'substitute teacher' freaked me out, but I had a friend in need so I volunteered for the day. My 'class' were the babies, which put me at ease a little as I'm much more of a baby person than a child person and the only 'lessons' they have at age 1 1/2 is basically structured play. So, I spent the day with 4 delightful little ones under the age of 2, was utterly exhausted at the end, and newly appreciative of Terri-Anne (whom I already appreciated to the moon and back again!)

That night as Terri-Anne and I were driving away to go and pick up her own darling little ones (Sian is 3 1/2 and Liam is 1 1/2) from their Dagis, she told me her boss was going to pay me as a substitute teacher! That was completely unexpected and completely God. This whole time in Sweden has been a thing of faith. I haven't really been asking for financial support, only leaving the door open should anyone want to support me. This has meant I've been avoiding looking at my bank account knowing that if I do I'll panic!! Early on in my stay in Sweden, someone from the church handed me an envelope one day saying they felt God was asking them to give it to me. Mike and Brona keep providing all the practicalities for me, even when I ask them not to. And now God's proving again that He will take care of me, just like He promised, if I trust Him.

And this is just in time as I have friends coming over from England and the Netherlands to visit and I want to be able to go out and show them the sights and must be able to pay for travel fare! : )

He is good, He is good, He is good. And He'll prove it over and over and over again. In dark times, in light ones, in hardships, in joys. He is the same. He will not stop doing good to us; He rejoices in doing us good (Jer. 32). And He is not tired of teaching me yet...

Praise God.


Gabs said...

Oh what He showed you about communion is so beautiful...Communion to me is a Broken Body given for a broken body. As for providing a paid job for you...just wow. I don't know what to say, beyond wow. I'm in awe of His loving-kindness.

gabs said...

Ooh P.S. I just saw you're reading ''The Shack''. I just finished it, how are you finding it?

Hannah said...

That is awesome about the money. It is just reassurance that you are where God wants you to be for right now. I can't wait for you to get back here though!

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