My answer seemed simple yet I knew it was true. Those are the reasons I love Mars Hill. My love is not based on how I feel about sermons, worship songs, theology or decoration. It is based entirely on the fact that I am better for knowing people there and have learned how to love God more.
The next day I spent 7 hours working in my Garden. I thought about God, the Creation Story, how plants burst forth from seeds, and about my answer to the question, "Why do you like your church?" I wasn't sure if I answered well or if I had really touched on the heart of the matter.
Sunday I went to church.
Church started with singing and immediately I was smiling because the worship team was using a red, plastic Kazoo. Love it. Then later we sang a hymn from 1848, nice and slow, with the sounds of an organ. *Rob and Ed team taught on this passage and it was all I could do to stay in my seat without clapping and hollering. Acts 2:44-45, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone who had need."
This was the early Christian church. It was a group of people who found a way for those who Have to give to those who Have Not. It's about community, sharing, loving and living together. They talked about leaping with Joy - meaning, those who have enough are so happy that they are literally leaping with Joy. They have the ability to Leap because their are no stones in their shoes (it's hard to walk with a pebble in your shoe). And then there are those among us who are Limping with the burden of having nothing. How can we share our Joy? While Ed explained this Rob was placing buckets around the stage. Then we heard this, "If you are leaping because you have enough and are paying your bills and have a little bit left over, you may come forward and give. If, however, you are limping because you have to choose between buying food or paying for medical bills, please come down, reach into the bucket and take what you need."
By now I am crying. Such leaky eyes.
Before Ed could really finish the invitation to give, people were already going forward and dropping money. I heard purses being unzipped and saw men reaching for their wallets. The stage was flooded with Generous Christians. After a few minutes Rob and Ed interrupted and said, "We see a lot of people giving and we thank you. But we know a lot of you are out there and you are hurting. Please. Please. Please, come forward and take what you need." Never in my life have I heard a pastor stand on stage and invite people to take money. They were begging people to take it. I saw a few people go forward and sheepishly reach in and count out a few bills. Ed said, "Some of you have taken a bit, please come around a 2nd time and take More." I was still sobbing from the sheer Joy of watching it all unfold.
This, then, is why I love my church.
*Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI
*Rob Bell, Ed Dobson