How do I know that I know the gospel? I know it by the joy it gives me.
I read this a couple of weeks ago in Mike Mason’s extended reflection on joy, Champagne for the Soul. We had just celebrated our sixth anniversary as a church and it had been a Sunday of great joy and hilarity. Person after person had taken the mic and talked about the sense of family in this place, about the combination of ethnicities, ages and social backgrounds so varied that community just shouldn’t work and yet flourishes despite our differences. We’d done our own variation on sharing the peace which basically means running round hugging as many people as you can find in the space of two minutes. I did tell you I’m surrounded by a church of extroverts, didn’t I?! And we’d also engaged in a Mexican wave.
That Mexican wave is a point of contention on my part actually (in a wry smiling kind of way!) . My co-leader thinks it’s highly amusing on the occasions that he’s leading the service to get us all doing a Mexican wave round and round and round the room. I just wonder what on earth new people think of us as I reluctantly stand and do my Mexican-waving duty…
But then, I guess, what outsiders see is the truth about who we are. A slightly crazy bunch of people who seem to think we’re family. A crowd who treats the gospel with the utmost seriousness and also responds with the utmost hilarity. A people who are totally passionate about their Creator and also totally normal in how we express that in daily life and relationships.
You know, as I reflect on all of our craziness that birthday Sunday, I realise this: we are a people who are beginning to know the gospel. And how do I know that? By the joy that it gives us.
So here’s to crazy, hilarious, joy-filled church communities, those who insist on hug-fests and Mexican waves and those who express their joy in different ways! And may you share in the joy of belonging to such a church and of being a catalyst in its further transformation towards joy as it begins to know the gospel.