Yesterday morning was something of a milestone for me.
We went with our house church to an Inter-church Christmas service at the Diamond City Conference Centre in Phnom Penh. For the first time in several years, I didn’t walk in with a bad attitude. I didn’t have a spec of criticism in my hear throughout the entire service.
This was indeed my Christmas miracle.
Why was all of this such a cataclysmic event one might ask?
Because ever since my husband’s family was voted out of membership of the church they had considered their spiritual family for many years, I have been angry at the “church”. I have been angry at a system that allows one man (a pastor, Board member, etc.) to wield so much power. I have been angry at how mean and nasty and unforgiving and unmerciful and ungracious Christians can be to one another – while sincerely believing the decisions to be just and righteous and pure. I have been angry that what some might perceive as simple – voting people out of membership – has had such huge, painful consequences for my family.
But I’ve also realized that maybe I’ve chosen the “church” as a scapegoat. And that in my anguish, I may have thrown the baby Body of Christ out with the Church bathwater and developed a nugget of resentment at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong – I still love the house church movement. I still love simple church because I know that’s where I’ve had the most profound, Christ centered experiences. But I’m just saying, I’ve learned a few things about judging people and churches for their styles of living out faith.
If I don’t let go and forgive, then I become my own worst nightmare and enemy – an angry, ungracious, unmerciful human being who holds a grudge while thinking that I am the one who is righteous. (sigh. how easy it is to miss that log in my own eye).
That is why walking into that church service yesterday was so BIG for me. Apparently, some sort of miracle has worked its way into my heart. Because I no longer blamed the Phnom Penh multi-denominational Christmas service for all the hurt caused four years ago by a completely different congregation. I didn’t walk in there critical and ready to tear everything to shreds. I saw a beautiful example of the Body – reflected in so many different denominations and ways of worship – gathered together to honor Immanuel.
And that is my Christmas miracle.