Today I sat out in the sunshine with a cup of tea and thought about how extraordinary it is that God would move among us.
I’d been working all morning in the church office, and had hit that familiar early-afternoon slump. There was too much work to do, as always, and I felt the tight grip of anxiety in my chest. For once, I had the self-awareness to realise I needed to sit outside for half a hour and let my soul recharge.
When I’m weary like this, I long for solitude and silence. If only I could wing my way to a secluded mountain or a peaceful field and just sit for a while, listening to the birds chirp. I feel like I can hear God better without noise in the way.
But because I was at work, the birds had to compete with the rumble of cars and the squealing of children from our preschool. To my surprise, God bought refreshment in the midst of it all. He broke through the suburban noise and, like the old hymn says, whispered his peace to my soul.
As I sat on that bench, looking around the church grounds, God opened my eyes to the little miracles before me. Within those unimpressive brick walls, the risen Christ is preached faithfully every week. I could see through the windows into creche, where infants are soothed and talked to and entertained by people who love them like family.
I’ve celebrated here as dear friends have been married, or had their children baptised. I can’t count the number of hugs, cups of tea, inside jokes, and meaningful conversations that have happened within these walls, with people whose lives are woven into mine. We have rejoiced together and mourned together, at parties and funerals. I’ve sat on that bench over there and held friends as they cried—grasping unsuccessfully for the right words to say, and instead silently casting our burdens up to God. Just like the world, this church is full of so much brokenness and so much beauty.
I don’t often step back and look like an outsider would at this place I call home. It’s simple and ordinary, easily taken for granted in the buzz of everyday life. But Christ is here. The King who created the stars came and bled and died for this church. What else could make such a disparate bunch of sinners into a family?
All day I’ve been stressed and frustrated by my work, but now I can see the beauty in it. As I labour over the Scriptures, wrestling with how to explain it to a group of teenagers, God is on the move.
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children are filled with strange awe when they hear the rumour: “Aslan is on the move.” We don’t see Aslan himself for another five chapters, but it soon becomes clear that the whispers are true. Spring starts to break through the enduring winter. The streams are gurgling, green tufts of grass poke out of the melting snow, and shafts of sunlight illuminate the bluebells. Aslan is dismantling the magic of the White Witch, so her kingdom crumbles around her.
And God moves among us too. His power breaks into the hopelessness of this world as the gospel changes hard hearts. We boldly or timidly invite others to hear the good news, and the frost of unbelief begins to melt. Our hands may be feeble but God is always planting and watering and tending.
Jesus has promised to be with us until the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He dwells within each one of us by his Spirit, and so this unremarkable building is teeming with life when we meet together. From the outside all I can see is an ordinary place filled with ordinary people—but just beyond our sight, God is working marvels. May he give us eyes to see this dawning spring.