In the middle sits a beautiful and fragile woman: divorced somewhere after about 20 years of marriage. Across the row from her sits a couple who are silently fighting infertility, praying to not allow it to overtake their marriage or identity. The back row holds an older man; once wed to a woman with a severe mental illness, she has passed away. In the front sits a man and his family; they planted churches and pastored many, were burned and hurt and overchurched. Somewhere along the sides is a girl who struggles with an eating disorder; men battling an addition to pornography; many wives sitting without their husbands; young couples craving to be pure; a couple who are on their third marriage, hoping to "get it right" this time around; a family about to lose their house. Up front? An imperfect preacher man who does so much more than preach on Sunday mornings. Somewhere in the back there are exhausted mamas pacing back and forth, carrying their precious babies in hopes to keep them happy.
On any given Sunday morning, the room is filled with normal people who have normal stories who live normal lives. You are not expected to be perfect and have it all together; you're expected not to, and invited to cling to Jesus.
Brave, because they are living in a broken world. A life of hurt and pain, a life that takes courage to face with joy. It takes courage to get up, choose joy, and cling to Jesus. It takes braveness to not allow these things to replace your identity.
We are perfectly imperfect humans, individually and collectively. Together, we meet under the same roof each Sunday; we worship Jesus, hug and high five one another, and agree on at least one thing: Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a painful death to bridge the impossibly large gap between us and God. Now we have access to life eternal and freedom on this broken earth; grace that can only be given by Christ. Corvallis Church, when I think of you, I think of how brave you are.
Sarah reminded me of this a week ago. She reminded me of your braveness.
When I look around on Sunday morning and catch sight of the multitudes of humans that make up Corvallis Church, I think: "these people amaze me" and it is not rare to be overtaken by emotions. You are facing life head on, reminding yourself that your circumstance does not define you, does not strip you of value. Courageously, you march into life, remembering that you are image-bearers of God himself.
It is not so much about the problems and pains we are battling, but how we respond to them. It isn't about Jesus taking away our trials and tribulations, but about Him being close to us and offering a peace that makes no sense, replacing our anxiety.
Corvallis Church, you are brave.
Falling in love with Him because of your courage,