~ Mrs. Gore’s thoughts on Sunday last ~
I just got home from Sunday worship.
I drank coffee. I laughed. I cried. I ate.
It was off the charts.
In years very past, our church was THE place to go in our small town. We had huge get-togethers, we put on impressive dramatic skits, we had a storehouse of musical talent, a bursting-at-the-seams youth group, and an impressive building fund. And I can’t speak for the entire congregation, but I know that when it comes to my personal thoughts and feelings, there was a bit of pride in that.
But along the years, things have drastically changed, and a few decades and church splits later, we are nearly unrecognizable…
I won’t pretend like this hasn’t been absolutely bewildering. Was this the work of God? The consequences of sin? The natural result of the societal changes around us? I honestly have no idea. But, I do know one thing. Regardless of what has happened or what we used to be, with every passing week, by the sweet grace of God, church is becoming so rich to me. So incredibly rich and soul-satisfying that I am struggling mightily with how to convey what my heart is proclaiming. Here’s why…
It is glaringly obvious when I look around my church today that what binds our congregation together is not that we have kids the same ages that play the same sports, or that we are all Republicans or that we all like the same style of preaching, music and church structure. In fact, very few of us have really anything in common at all…except for one thing.
The biggest thing.
God has saved us from certain death and eternal condemnation and we’ve got to go somewhere to thank Him.
And so the people I laughed with, drank coffee with and ate with, the people who inspired this morning’s tears? You won’t find a more jumbled-up, polar opposite lot of folks ~ some very old, some infants, some black, some white, some mentally impaired, some farmers, some teachers, some nurses, some homeschoolers, some public-schoolers, some scholars, some dummies (that would be me), some singers, some non-singers, and three or four teenagers…a group of people who on any other day, without our common bond of Jesus Christ, would probably never even have reason to pass each other on the street.
And yet as my husband introduced three of our nine new members this morning (who have gone through an intensive membership class, signed a church covenant and are pledging their commitment to our local church body) and asked us to vote…not as we used to, just saying “aye!” that we were happy to have them (even though we sometimes had no clue who they were!), but by giving our verbal consent not only to accept them into our congregation but to dedicate our own lives to each of them as brothers and sisters…I could hardly contain my excitement.
Because our church is growing? Because the people who were joining us are wildly popular in the community and might draw others to come? Because we were going to have a potluck to honor them in just minutes? No, no, and no. (Mmmmm, make that last one a “maybe”…)
I was excited because after years of stripping us down to bare bones, depriving us of our talents, our popularity and our money, after years of painstakingly getting us to a point of realizing how “naked” we were, it seems that God is condescending to come in and dine with us. He is showing us, week by week, experience by experience, what unity is, what “church” is, and what being a true follower of Jesus looks like.
I was excited because, after 20 years of being a member of my congregation, I can finally say that I am not proud of my church. I am humbled by it.
Phew!…What a Sunday!