Sunday, June 10, 2007

Paradise Found

I’m writing this from my new favorite spot in the house. Just outside the house, actually. Coworkers in the area who are returning to the States next month GAVE us their patio furniture, so our warm-weather living space has just been expanded. I absolutely love it! Ahhh, to be able to enjoy something so pleasant without having to wait until our next visit to Matt’s parents’ house. (If you’ve ever had a meal on their deck, you know what I mean.) It’s a little slice of heaven.

Today’s been one of those heavenly days. In addition to having perfect weather all day long, my favorite white summer trousers fit comfortably again and we had lunch from our favorite kebab shop. And in addition to the pleasure of eating chicken tikka kebabs right here on the patio in our little back garden, as we waited for our order the guy behind the counter gave us a glass of fresh, cold mango juice. Each.

I ask you, is there anything more heavenly than mango juice? I’ll go ahead and say, the answer is NO. I told Jack as much: Mmm-mmm, isn’t this good? Do you like it? I’m so glad you do because this is what we’re all going to be drinking in Heaven. It will go perfectly with the Indian food we’ll all be eating…

The other heavenly thing about today is that we went to church. I love our church. I really do. I thought I’d never love a church as much as I loved ICF in Cyprus, but here we are and every Sunday as the service ends I think to myself, “I must write a post about how much I love our church.” Only I don’t know where to start. It’s more than the sum of all its parts -- amazing worship band; fab pastoral team; Biblical, grace-filled teaching; friendly folks; creative community outreach events and service-oriented members. And it’s more than a feeling, although every time we interact with RBC people or attend a gathering, I feel so ministered-to, strengthened and alive.

Today we had a guest speaker, the London representative from the Baptist Missionary Society. His message kept me riveted, especially as he talked about social justice being an inextricable part of true worship. Later this afternoon we had a Tea Party with a Bite -- as in, a bite to eat and some discomfort -- with different varieties of tea served alongside information about the persecution of believers in their producing countries (China, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Vietnam). Since my parents are here for a visit, even though Matt is away this week I was able to go to the Tea Party and stay for the evening service afterward.

At other times I’ve heard about and even prayed for Christians who are persecuted in the world today, but after an hour of drinking tea and reading my way around the room of articles displaying statistics of each country and the photos and stories of specific people who have suffered for believing in Jesus... Well, going into the sanctuary and standing up to worship freely, confidently (and loudly) with other believers suddenly felt like the precious joy and privilege that it is.

And since that’s what we’ll really be doing in Heaven, worshipping God alongside brothers and sisters in Christ from every nation, tribe and tongue, it was a fitting end to the day.

* * * * * * *
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NIV)

They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way... I hate all your show and pretense, the hypocrisy… Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to My ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry. (Amos 2:6b-7a, 5:21, 23-24 NLT)

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