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  • Sarah Luton

**CHURCH**

Today I want to celebrate church, in all of its diversity and the variety of expressions. Because I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today without church and the beautiful people and relationships that make up church.


Let’s be real, it hasn’t always been easy. People come with baggage and I have my own. We are all a work in progress! But, the benefits far outweigh the challenges and I am a better person for the years I have spent in church, learning, growing and spending time with people who have championed me, believed in me, supported me and challenged me.


Two years ago I asked God how he wanted me to relate to church. He showed me two contrasting pictures.


The first picture was a picture of slavery, a ‘wheel of pain,’ people chained and forced to go round and round to make the cogs of the machine work. It was a picture of church being the centre of it all and every member being chained to it, forced to exhaust themselves to keep it going. This was the opposite of what God was calling me to.


Then he showed me the second picture. This one was a picture of the neurons in a brain, all lit up, some lit up stronger and brighter than others, multiple connections all over the place. The connections were God orchestrated and I felt they were cross-denominational, cross-cultural and cross-geographical. The ones that were lit up brighter were the ones that God was highlighting for a particular moment or season, however there was no less value on the ones that were dimmer. They were all a part of this beautiful, organic, highly relational church that God had orchestrated and that He was breathing His life upon.


Today I write this because I am thankful for each of the connections that I am privileged to be part of. I write this to celebrate the beauty of what God is doing in and through HIS CHURCH - it started in Him, will find its purpose in Him and will be completed and perfected by Him. (Col 1:16-26 MSG).


Equippers Church

They are my family, my whānau. We’ve been doing life together for the last 12 years. And like every family, we’ve been through some stuff. But, God gave me a conviction that FAMILY WORKS THINGS OUT. And so I am grateful to still be part of this family. So many significant moments and significant relationships that I am so very thankful for.


Global Online - Daniel Zelli

Last year in lockdown I was invited to join Global Online on Saturday mornings and 18months down the track I have friends across the world that I am so very grateful for. To know that we all represent different countries, different cities, different churches, different denominations... and yet we are all hearing the same Holy Spirit and following the same Jesus, is such a beautiful thing. The prophetic is so strong and it has been such a place of encouragement, life and freedom for me.


Connect Blenheim

What a privilege to get to do life with Connect for a year while we were in Blenheim! And more than that, to still be counted as whānau every time I visit. Also such a privilege to travel to Bethel together - a trip that was so life defining and so needed for what I was about to walk into. I am forever grateful for all that God did in and through my time at Connect and for the relationships that will remain family no matter where I live!


Wahine Rangatiratanga o Te Rangi

Wow, such a blessing. This group of ladies have taught me so much and loved me so well. We meet on Tuesdays and come from many different churches across our region. We are Māori, we are Pākehā, we are Scottish, we are Kenyan…. We are Wahine Rangatiratanga o Te Rangi! We are learning together, we are honouring each other, we are championing each of our churches, we are praying together and we are rising up together - MARANGA MAI!!


The Flood

I’ve only recently joined The Flood and it was so orchestrated by God. He spoke, I listened, He moved and I simply said yes. We meet on Wednesdays and again we represent different churches across our region. We listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying and we pray. We get excited about what God is doing in our region and across our nation, and then we lean in to take our place, to be the piece of the puzzle that God has called us to be, for what He is doing, for such a time as this.


Unite

I have to also mention Unite because I am so grateful that I got to be part of one of their neighbourhood churches for a season, meeting each Sunday in a beautiful barn. Again it was so God orchestrated and the relationships formed and strengthened during that season were exactly what I needed at the time. God is so good and He knows what we need and who we need and when. I’m grateful for the relationships that continue outside of Sundays, to know that we’re part of the bigger family of God together.


So…I say all of that to say, God is doing a good thing. He is breaking down the walls that separate us, He is bringing greater unity to HIS church. He is pulling together HIS family. He is reminding us to keep Jesus at the centre, to serve and love HIM first and foremost. There is such beauty in our diversity and HE is holding us together. He is helping each of us as individuals and churches to find our place in Him, to find our identity in Him, to play the part He has called us to play for such a time as this.


For an orchestra to create a beautiful symphony, they have to follow the conductor, to honour the part that each instrument plays. The timpani is just as important as the piccolo. God composed the song and He’s written a part for us all to play. I can hear the sound and it’s beginning to sound glorious. Keep tuning your instruments and get ready.


#forlifesake #livingonpurpose #livingwithpurpose #iamthankful #churchfamily #whanau



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