Church Invisible

(This cross, nailed to a tree, helps to mark our sacred space.)

(This cross, nailed to a tree, helps to mark our sacred space.)

Recently I reread a portion of Evelyn Underhill’s writing in which she speaks of the Church Invisible (those saints known only to God) and its role in making manifest the kingdom of God. She writes:

Christian selves are simply parts of that vast organism the Church Invisible, which is called upon to incarnate the Divine Life in history, and bring eternity into time… (The Evelyn Underhill Reader, p 164)

Three or four Sundays ago, I encountered this “church invisible.” I had arrived at the parking lot where we set up our “church without walls” services, only to find that I had left our bulletin inserts at home. I turned around to go get them, leaving the 3 or 4 folks who had come to help to fend for themselves.

About 30 minutes later, as I pulled into the parking lot, I was awestruck. The area where we meet was brimming with people. All the things we use for worship had been moved into place and set up – the altar, a few chairs, our sound system. Coffee, cookies and ice water were being served out of the back of someone’s vehicle.

I stopped my car for a moment and simply watched. Taking in this vibrant scene was a goose-bump experience for me, seeing people from all walks of life working together and connecting with one another. There was laughter and joy. A spirit of welcome and happy anticipation.

The church was made incarnate right before my eyes. Jesus is alive and well. It is possible to encounter this living God. It is possible to bring eternity into the realm of time. Just suit up, show up and reach out to your neighbor.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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