If church is defined as a "house of worship," then I can't think of a better house to worship God in than these mountains. I am awed by the grandeur of His handiwork, and made small by His greatness. I believe we meet God best when our hearts are stilled, and we are humbled by His majesty and power.
I had church at the Maroon Bells of Colorado today.
Nature preached a sermon that echoed off rugged cliffs and into the valley below. "Grace upon grace," murmured the bubbling streams that fed the still lake. "God with us," whispered the shhhh-ing of the aspen leaves as the winds picked up their voices and scattered them upon the earth.
God with us. Grace.
Despite the turmoil of this world, and the problems that seem unsolvable, God's presence is still with us. His grace is still at work to draw us near, to let us hear and know and see the Almighty One. I believe that, but sometimes I forget it.
I've had church in many places: I've worshipped while washing dishes. I've met God at my mailbox. My car is one of my favorite places to pray. Of course, gathering with other believers - anywhere - is church. I've had church in arenas with 10,000 people singing together. I've had church in the barn, where it smells like manure and hay and dust. I've experienced church in my living room, with an open Bible and a cup of coffee. Sometimes church comes when you can snatch a minute away from the busyness of regular life.
But the church I love best is in nature. It is here that I am face to face with the mystery - and mastery - of God Himself. Today, I sat in silence and watched the sunlight chase clouds over the mountain peaks and ignite the aspens with vivid color. There simply are no words that can capture the experience of it. I breathed in and closed my eyes and stilled my heart.
As I turned to leave, my eyes fell on a small piece of driftwood at the shore of the lake.
To my eyes, it looked exactly like a wing in flight. I tucked it in my pocket as a reminder of this moment in God's magnificent sanctuary. Maybe angels above are singing, I don't know. Maybe it's just my heart that fluttered at this perfect little find. Maybe there is a message in it for me somewhere. I'm not one to go looking for signs.
But this I know: Grace upon grace, God is with us still.
This, my friends, is church.
Where have you experienced church? I'd love to hear your worship experience.