The words to the Casting Crowns song Stained Glass Masquerade are always powerful to me. They represent a struggle I had most of my life, the struggle to be real amidst a sea of regular, of good, of unreal. That sounds judgemental and harsh, but the judgement is all on me. Like the television set that is in 98% of American homes, but which does not grace ours, I do not condemn either the church or the television; it is an indictment of my weak and wandering will, which seeks fitting in and pleasure far more than it should. Is worshiping at the church on the corner wrong? I cannot say that it is for you or you. But for me it was impossible. It was an exercise filled each moment with doubt and hypocrisy, it was straightening my skirt and struggling to hear the truth behind the beautiful music and mostly counting the number of boards in the lovely steepled roof.
I tried a monastic sort of relationship with God; just he and I and no one else invited. I faltered here too, because the very influences that drew me to shiny plasticity, were also strangely what kept me on course, what kept me coming back to God and working on our relationship.
And then God led me down a road that I didn't even know was possible, but for which my heart had been longing all my life. It really isn't a road though, its a barely visible trail, just a few footsteps in the snow really, more of a track.
And that track is what I now call church. I'm sure over 150 people have come and gone down this track, some continue to walk it, some got back on the larger road, many stopped moving all together.
There is no room for pomp and circumstance, there is no place for performance, there is just real people, really trying to have a real relationship with God, and really asking for each other's help. Sometimes in the aftermath of a Sunday at our house I find a travel mug left behind. Sometimes I find a piece of my heart I had given up on. Always I find that our differences, which are many, are left with our shoes and coats at the door of each home we meet in.
I am nostalgic and appreciative of this great church home we have found at last. And yet, if I have learned anything in these five years, it is not to cling too tightly to this place, this group. Only God, only where His track leads me, only that and nothing more or less. Perhaps I will turn around and find that God is leading me back to the steepled, stained glass corner church.
But for now I am to stay with this group of people whose stained glass windows shine out from their hearts and souls.