Sunday, December 17, 2017

Advent 2017 #17: Church and the Mattress Set: Life as Christ Intended

When I graduated from high school, my mother gave me a brass bed she'd bought from a woman in our church. I loved that bed, but it was heavy and huge. 

I left it behind when I moved to college. By the time I bought a house of my own, the bed had been in Mama's storage house for years, and one of the bedrails was missing. I took the bed and single rail with the expectation that I'd find another one.

I didn't. 

Nearly thirty years later, I decided to put the bed in Ryan's room and determined to find a matching rail. The antique bed websites I searched gave directions in no uncertain terms. Don't lose a rail. You won't find another one. I found a few paired rails, but very few like mine. They were exorbitantly expensive. 

Finally, one day a couple of weeks ago, I prayed again about my rail and had the distinct impression I should Google it. Certain it was a low-yield waste of time, I entered "antique bed rail B style" in my search engine. The first entry was a single rail, exactly the kind I needed, for a price I could afford. I ordered it.

The rail arrived on Thursday and fit perfectly. There was one problem though. No mattress. The search for mattresses was completely overwhelming. In the midst of Christmas preparations, it was too much. Finally, I did what I always do. Prayed for a mattress and box springs. 

Yesterday, I messaged my friend and fellow church member about something I needed for Sunday school today. While we were texting, I mentioned my need for a mattress set. They had just given one away, she told me, but her husband would be on the lookout.

"Why don't you get Dianne to email the church?" she suggested.

"What? And ask about a mattress set?"

"Sure. People do it all the time. If someone has one to get rid of, it'll be a help for them, too."

I was stunned. I'd seen those emails before, but hadn't thought much about them. "Like family?" I texted back.

"Yes. Family."

Truth slammed into me with the force of a freight train. This was what Jesus intended. When one of us has a need, another will meet it. We'll love as Christ loved, in deeds, not merely words. 

When Sam was in my home, on hospice, sick as he could be and getting worse every day, my church was there, helping. I knew we took care of each other when there was sickness, but I never dreamed the love of our church would extend intentionally to practical help for every day life.

This is first century, Acts-style church, and it's amazing. No wonder people were so shocked by the early church's love for one another. 

I'm shocked, too.

Not long after, my friend texted me with good news. Her husband had been outside for a walk and stopped to talk to their neighbor, Lesia. She had a mattress set she wanted to give away. A few hours later, she and my friends helped me load in my truck.

"I just love to be a part of God blessing someone," Lesia told me. I love it, too, but being on the receiving end is an humbling, stunningly beautiful experience. 

Jesus came as part of a family, His relationship with His disciples was that of life-in-common family, and He intended His church to function as a family, as well. We're to love each other as He loved us. Wide open. Generous. Loving. Sacrificial. 

Want to be more like the early church? Don't limit yourself to a seat on a pew or a place in a committee meeting. See a need and meet it. Give with a cheerful heart. Be the church of Jesus by doing what He did. Love. Give. Serve. 

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32 niv

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