The Church in Thy House
It's 8:00 Sunday morning. The Corona virus social distancing adventure that is our life right now makes this day different from normal. My children have tumbled into the living room in various states, some happier to be awake than others. The two year old is dressed, though not by choice. The five year old changed from pajamas - into more pajamas. At least he's clean. The 12 year old has showered and finished his chores. The 14 year old just rolled out of bed and hasn't spoken a word yet. He stayed up too late sending memes to friends, though I cut him off when I turned in because I wouldn't let him sleep with the phone. Social distancing is hardest on the gregarious. He grunts when I say good morning.
My husband brings his guitar to the couch. The boys drape themselves across cushions, pull out paper to doodle, and line up matchbox cars in front of the tv. In the kitchen, I flatten dough to make breakfast pizzas. We'll eat it during church. Because today, church is in our living room.
Usually my husband has already been at church several hours before this. Usually I'm yelling, ahem, encouraging the sluggish to swallow the last mouthful of cereal, find their shoes (which are never where they should be), and turn off lights as we madly dash to the car. And no you can't bring the cat. Or wear pajamas.
But today isn't usually. Today, the cat is nestled on a throne of throw blankets in the middle of the sectional. Today a couple kids are wearing pajamas. Today church is live-streaming to our tv. The pastor appears on the screen - alone - speaking to a camera.
Today, church is in our house. I miss the fellowship. I miss the place and people. I miss the communal worship, drowning my voice in the midst of better ones. I miss hugs. I miss dropping my kids off in classes with teachers who are my friends and classmates who are theirs so that I can actually focus on a Biblical sermon somehow personally applicable to my heart every time. I miss church.
From the very beginning of church as a thing, from Acts when the disciples started getting together after Jesus went to heaven, church was in houses. Sometimes in the temple, sometimes outside, but often, on the regular, people met in each other's homes. That was a thing. The thing.
These days, we stray from that. It's easier in many ways to outsource. We send kids to school to learn academics. We get someone else to make our coffee to-go, someone else to tell us the news, read us stories, entertain us, feed us, move us, enlighten us.
It's not bad to remember that all that can be organic.
We can do all that right in our own house if we need to.
It's not always as good as having someone else do it, true. We were created to need interaction. We challenge, encourage, temper and exhort each other. But that's not an excuse to overlook the homefront. This is where everything starts. This is basic. This is home.
Paul acknowledged this in his letter to Onesimus. He wrote the book of Philemon to exhort him and the church in his house to seek God in their real, everyday life decisions. Make God central - in the home.
I'm reminded this is my commitment too. The church in my house - these boys I'm raising to become the next generation of men in the world - this is ground zero. These walls that are splattered with chocolate milk and the fingerprints of muddy exuberance contain a great commission. This floor that desperately needs mopping is holy ground. This home is not only the place they can expect to find almost endless pizza and truly endless laundry, this home is where they will build the foundation of their life. It is a heavy job. It is a holy job. It is my job. I cringe at it sometimes, this raising of men, and wish I could outsource it. But no. The buck stops here. Or rather, starts.
This is taken directly from Morning and Evening Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon. Philemon 2. If there be such a Church in our house, let us order it well, and let all act as in the sight of God. Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household; family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be more warm and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches, for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a family-church in the inspired book of remembrance.
I know it's hard.
Most good things are.
The days of small things should never be despised. This is where God loves to work, right here in the the hallowed hallways between the rooms where we live. Right here, right now, pajamas and pizza and Jesus exist in the holy mundane. May your home be filled with His glory. Today.