Tonight, we gather for our first Recovery Church service. We’ll start with dinner, and I’m waiting until 4:00 to preheat the oven for the two lasagnas we’ll serve. Before dinner, a couple of folks will show up to help put out signs, put together the salad, and set up tables and chairs. The message is written, the songs practiced, and the PowerPoint uploaded. Everything that can be planned for, has been. It’s the unplanned that holds the greatest anticipation.
Everything about Recovery Church has to do with relationships. The meal is a medium over which conversations are had and friendships are formed. It’s an opportunity to get to know the other with the comfort of a table and plate of food safely between. It’s a soft opening to a deeper conversation about struggle, faith, and hope.
When we enter the sanctuary after dinner, our bellies will be full. Our hearts will long to be the same. We will lift our voices in praise and worship of our God. We will celebrate that greatest of relationships, made possible through Jesus Christ. We will sing with gratitude, humility, and awe.
Having turned our hearts toward God, we will listen to the Word of God. It’s my solemn responsibility to relay the truth of Scripture in grace and love. I’ve been praying that God will move me out of the way and simply speak through me. It’s not me that anyone has come to meet. I have no wisdom in myself to offer, only that which He has given me.
To conclude the service, we’ll bow together in prayer. We’ll offer up spoken words and secret groans that require the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, trusting in His faithfulness to hear and respond.
Afterward, we will gather in small groups to dig into what the Bible has to say about our lives, our situations, and our recovery. We’ll have a chance to share our lives, having lowered our defenses a little through a shared meal and shared worship.
Mysteriously, through the mundane and ordinary, God will do the miraculous and extraordinary. Some part of us, great or small, will be changed. We will have experienced His presence, been reassured of His grace, and renewed in our relationship with Him. And we will have made some new friends along the way.