Grace, Church & Being the Solution
Every Monday we gather around the living room. Eight young women trying our best to share the gospel over broken languages. The light above hasn’t worked for months, but we don’t care. We huddle close, leaning in to gather the light from the kitchen, basking in our own light we give off when we are together in the Word.
Jenny, exhausted from school but present, searching for truth.
Arianne, hunched over and shy, yet completely engaged.
Myriam with her pocket size Bible and mind full of questions.
Kencia, brave and loud, seizing every moment to make a statement.
Josie, beautiful and scarred, looking for her One True Love.
Guerdine with her notebook and pen, taking notes as if one day she will be given a final exam.
Marjorie, a foster mom of six young women, in need of wisdom and strength.
And me, stumbling over my Creole, pink leather Bible held firm in my grasp, praying for the Spirit to breath truth into a dozen hungry ears.
This is my favorite evening of the week.
It all started after one of them confessed their fear. Fear of being unforgivable. Fear of being too broken. Fear that she was unworthy of the grace offered in communion.
“No one is worthy,” I cupped her hands into mine. “No one is worth of the wine and the bread. But that’s what makes it so beautiful. He gives us his body because his brokenness can fix ours.”
She looked back, unsure. I could tell she still did not believe. Believe that such a grace was made for her.
It was then I knew it was time, past time really. Although the girls participate in devotionals every evening with the boys, it was time to personally walk them through the grace found in scriptures.
We started in 1 Corinthians. A letter to a broken church full of broken people. It is here , in Chapter 11, where they often get stuck in fear. Literal fear that something bad might happen to them if they take the Lord’s Supper in vain.
For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 11: 29-30).
Their fear is deeply rooted in their society, in the blood of their Haitian veins. Wrong someone and you will pay. There are witchdoctors in every community.
Just the same, wrongly take communion and you may also pay a price.
It’s a fear taken out of context, yet implanted in their souls. They’ve heard these words repeated every Sunday since they can remember. How could they not believe it to be true?
Which is why they struggle with grace.
With believing God always loves them in spite of ________________.
Because if you could get sick and die for simply taking the Lord’s Supper in vain, just imagine what would happen if you did much worse?
Last week Myriam seemed distraught as we read through Paul’s words. I could tell her mind was brewing and I lent her space to formulate her thoughts into words.
“The Bible is supposed to change people, yes?” she looked my way, pocket size Bible pointed straight at me.
I nodded, curious.
“This letter (1 Corinthians) was written to correct the church thousands of years ago. So why is it 2016 and the church hasn’t changed a bit?” she continued on.
Her Bible dropped to the floor. Accident or coincidence, I’m not sure.
I wanted to tell her that wasn’t true. That we have grown. That we have changed. That we have taken Paul’s words to heart and become a stronger body.
But she was right. If Paul was alive and well today he would be writing us the same words. Almost 2,000 years later and we are still a bunch of divided, sinful people.
The girls looked to me in unison, waiting for my response. I took a moment to breathe. A split second to beg the Spirit for words.
“You’re right, Myriam. We are the same church. And that is why God made sure this letter would be in Bible, because every generation would need it.”
She wasn’t satisfied.
“But why haven’t we changed?” she persisted, picking the Bible off the floor beneath her.
“I don’t know. Because Satan hasn’t changed either. Because we still live in a sinful world.”
That sounded hopeless and I knew it.
“Listen,” I continued on, setting my Bible on the armrest. “The church is still the same, and that is what makes God’s grace so amazing. That he would choose to still make us his bride even though we never seem to grow up.”
Myriam gave a smirk. Still not sold.
“Hey,” I looked her right in the eyes. “If you see the church needs to change, be the change.”
With that she smiled. “Okay, Jillian.”
She was done, although my heart knew she had so much more to say.
It’s been days now and the Spirit isn’t letting this one go. I think he is asking me to connect the dots. To see that in order for our girls to truly love the church, brokenness and all, they first need to grasp the truth that God loves them, brokenness and all.
It’s a lesson all of us need to learn, really. That his grace is sufficient. That his broken body makes us whole. That communion isn’t about who is worthy and who is not, because none of us ever are.
Myriam is right, the church hasn’t changed a whole lot since Paul wrote his letters to Corinth. This has caused many people to give up on the church all together. But it shouldn’t. Because we were never expected to be perfect. We have been made up of flawed people since the book of Acts and will continue to be flawed until Jesus returns. But just like I told Myriam: If you see the church needs to change, be the change!
Last night as I swatted a half million mosquitos off my bare legs, I sat on our porch and Skyped with a friend. We spoke about various things, one of which led her to say, “At some point we have to stop complaining unless we are willing to be a part of the solution.” And she was right.
Be a part of the solution.
The Spirit continued to connect the dots.
Next Monday night, as Marjorie passes around a bag of hard candies for us all to enjoy as we open up the Word, I think I am going to tell Myriam that. And Josie. And Kencia. And all the other girls who see the problems.
Be a part of the solution.
Maybe together they can work to grow and mature the church in Haiti. And you and I can do the same in our little areas of the world as well.