Friday, August 20, 2010

The Body

Yesterday, I experienced the body of Christ.

Am I part of the body? This has been a big question in my mind over the summer, and I have admittedly struggled with church, religion, and denomination lately. As I have changed so much over the past year, so have my thoughts about things I once held fast. My view of the body has changed.

I thought the body was my close knit group of friends. We did so much together - we truly shared life. But, I have now come to think that we were all just a bunch of elbows...all of us. So much alike, doing the same sort of things, leading the same sort of life. Just a bunch of pointy elbows hanging out together.

But, that's not what the body is supposed to look like. Right?

Yesterday, I experienced the body. Next to me was a tongue - for sure! Next to her, a pair of eyes. Over in the corner, I saw hands. And behind me, a heart. Gathered in one room were about thirty people...most of us didn't know each other, but I would say that all of us knew at least one person. And in most cases, that person was quite different. In this one room, there assembled an inner-city black pastor, an Hispanic father, an elderly woman who needed assistance walking, a teenage girl who was all legs, a middle aged Packer fan, and a white suburban pastor...you get the picture.

We gathered for one single purpose; to invite Jesus to reign at one of the toughest inner city schools in Milwaukee. This school is known for a few things - gang violence and high failure rates. There is never any good news coming out of this school.

Until last year. A brother became the principal. He started his first staff meeting in prayer. He said, "The spiritual health of the school needs to be attended to first! If you don't like it, you may step out during the prayer, but I will start every staff meeting this way."

The first day of school last year, this principal started the school year the same way! He gathered the entire student body into the gym and said, "The spiritual health of this school needs to be attended to first. We will start this year in prayer. If you don't like it, you may step out during the prayer." Not one student stepped out!

Progress was made, but not enough. Violence still broke out. Students were hurt. The gangs in the neighborhood shot bullets into the school building. Kids were afraid to go to school.

This year, the principal said, "Enough. We are going to invite Jesus to reign in this building!"

He invited a group of people. I have been here before - back in February to encourage the teachers. Since then, I have wanted to go back. I am not afraid. I walk with the One who has more power than the one who rules this earth. So, I went back.

And we prayed! We got into small groups and prayed over a specific list of requests. The sweet sound of 20 people broken into small groups all praying together was wonderful. Men were shouting; women were crying; all were pleading with God.

We then walked the halls. Touching each locker, the holy spirit told me, "Pray for healing! These children are so broken." So, as I touched each locker, I begged God to pour down His healing power on this student. Then this one. Then that one.

We visited "hot spots" - the areas where fights break out every day. The area where no security cameras are posted. We held hands and prayed that there would be no more spirit of rage, no more spirit of violence, no more spirit of hatred. Instead, a spirit of forgiveness, a spirit of peace and a spirit of love would take it's place.

I prayed with people who spoke in tongues. I prayed with people who sobbed as they prayed. I prayed with people who passionately shouted to God and had all of us on our feet cheering.

We broke out into praise songs:
I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you,
Oh my soul, rejoice.

Take joy my king
In what you hear.
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
In your ear.

We sang The Blessing Song over the principal.

We shared lunch and went on our way.

I don't know if I will ever see those saints again on this earth. But I know, someday in heaven, I will see each and every one and we will reminisce about our day at that high school.

On my way home, my car broke down...yup, in that horrible, gang-filled neighborhood (well, close by). And I was safe. I had been with Jesus.

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