Life has a funny way of taking us to places that we didn’t expect.
Take me, for example. If you had told me 5 years ago, as Cassandra and I came back from our honeymoon and settled into the rigmarole and routine of daily married life, that in 2019 we’d be planting a church - I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me 10 years ago, as I settled into my senior year of high-school, I would have called you crazy.
But here we are.
There’s a quote from Ray Bradbury in his book Fahrenheit 451 that goes like this: “I'm seventeen and I'm crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane.”
I’m 27, and if I’m being honest with you, in this season of life, sometimes I feel insane. So if you read the words ‘planting a church’ and thought ‘you’re crazy’, or ‘…why?’, don’t feel too bad, I might understand.
I think that most of us here in Canada have some sort of experience with ‘the church’ or Christianity. For those of us in Abbotsford, we almost certainly do. Whether that experience has generally been positive is another question entirely. If you’re still reading, can I tell you a tiny bit about my experience? I understand that it might differ from yours, I think it’s alright to not feel the same way all the time.
I’ve always considered myself to be a person with one foot on either end of a spectrum - either I think about an issue or idea deeply and examine it thoroughly and delve its depths excessively and obsessively… or I gloss over it and pay it little attention unless it’s placed directly in front of me and taunts me into cursory examination. Regardless - I don’t consider myself someone who knows or cares a little amount about a lot of things. I’m generally one or the other, and my wife can certainly attest to this.
I’ve thought about ‘the church’ a lot. I’ve thought about its pros, its cons, the things it does well, and the places it can improve. I’ve thought about its successes, its failures, the many places and times that it’s brought people together, and the times it’s so sadly torn people apart. How could I have not? I’ve been raised in it. I, like so many of us in the Fraser Valley, was brought up in church. I went to Sunday school, I memorized my Bible verses, I sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’. I went to youth camps, I went to small groups, I filled shoeboxes with toys and sent them to Africa. I was an adherent to the faith of my parents, because it was the faith of my parents. What do we know, if not what we’ve been taught? And for many years, the faith of my parents was enough.
Until one day it wasn’t.
And isn’t this so many of our stories? You wake up one morning, and look at the world outside your window, and think to yourself ‘are you even up there?’.. ‘And if you are, why _________?’ Why suffering? Why injustice? Why corruption? Why death? Why pain? Why hypocrisy? Why hate? In short, why does the world not align with the way that I think it should? Wouldn’t it be so much better if …?
We all fill in that blank differently. Some of us have found answers. Some us haven’t yet. Some of us have become comfortable not always knowing. To be honest, I feel like I fit all three categories at times. I think that’s alright. I think doubt is essential to faith, and if we don’t examine our beliefs and preconceptions regularly, we risk those beliefs drifting from their original course and intention.
Church should be a place where questions are encouraged, not avoided; where doubts are engaged, where you are built up, not beat down, and where faith is not mandatory for acceptance.
The opposite of faith is not doubt - it’s certainty. Certainty is that air-tight room which doesn’t let anything or anyone into the messy parts of life and smells like mothballs. Doubts are those inevitable cracks in the structure. That universality to humanity that brings us together. Doubt is the places the light shines through. In my experience, it’s within the uncertainty of life and love and parenting and adolescence and purpose and meaning and morality and origin and destiny that we find faith. It’s in our examination and openness of our own worries, struggles, fears and failures that we relate to each other, and acknowledge our need for God. It’s in the realization of my imperfection and inability to fill this indefinable, universal void that plagues my life no matter what I do that I turn to something or someone outside of myself, and outside of my own understanding.
For me, that person is Jesus.
For me, that place is the church. Don’t get me wrong - the church is imperfect - and we can get better - but it’s in the cracks that the light shines through. No perfect people inevitably means no perfect church. There’s no point in hiding from that fact.
Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Over and over I saw the same messaging - the messaging we all need to hear, no matter where we are on our journey. Whether we’re facing depression, loneliness, fear, confusion, anxiety, addiction, infertility, brokenness in our families and relationships, health concerns that you just don’t know when they’ll end or if they’ll ever get better. The message was this: You matter. You are not alone.
We’re planting a church in Abbotsford. It’s launching in January 2019. You don’t need to come. But no matter whether you join us or not - please know this: you matter. You are not alone. You are loved. Peace is a person, and love has a name and that name is Jesus and the God of the universe does not hate you, does not condemn you, but actually wants a personal relationship with you. He wants to know you, and wants you to know Him in return.
I so firmly believe that the way we were created is to be in community and in relationship with others. Life in community is hard sometimes, but I’ve learned that it’s harder alone. I think church should be fun and vibrant. It should make you laugh a lot, and sometimes maybe it makes you cry a bit. No matter what, I think it should feel like family. I have a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. This means that sometimes at 5AM when she wakes up, I’m a good husband because I let my wife sleep in but an iffy parent because I turn on the Disney channel and lie down on the couch. I’m reliving my childhood watching these old movies while half asleep. Lilo and Stitch played the other day. Can I leave you with this from the movie?
“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”.
We’re looking to build a family in the Fraser Valley. We’d like you to be a part of it. If you’re feeling lost. If you’re feeling left behind. If you’re feeling forgotten. If you haven’t found a place to belong. If you’re confused. If you have questions. If you don’t believe - we want you to know - you still belong. You’re so welcome here. We can’t wait to meet you.
With all the love we have to give,
Dan & Cassandra Comrie