Almost a stranger, known by only a few—a little over thirteen years ago and you, the church welcomed me, and then you loved me. Despite my scars.
You are my haven, worshipping in gratitude, faith, unity as a circle with love. Where knees are pressed solid in prayer and tears stain the sacred altar floor.
I watched on this particular Sabbath morning two sisters mourning together. And when they broke away from their long embrace their watery eyes told the story of love, hurt. Of one sister’s loss and one sister’s Christ-like compassion. This is my church where hugs are sometimes tighter, where a dear sister will reach for your hand during an altar of prayer, where handshakes are sometimes longer and words are not spoken. Where needs and heartbreaks are often left unsaid, but are known to the hearts of the church. And you, my church are praying. Because when one of the church hurts, we all hurt.
My church is voices lifted high in song, a precious baby cry, church bells ringing, testimonies of thanksgiving and praise, and the true word of God preached by a man who was never a stranger to us, nor was his wife. Their obedience and service to God’s calling is one of my church’s greatest blessings.
My church is the quietness of listening and soaking in God’s word in Sunday School, during revival meetings, and squeals of children’s laughter during Vacation Bible School. And the splash of living water, another new soul rising from the cleansing—washed in the blood—in faith believing, baptism.
My church is voices of the past, those who built the church on strong beliefs, faith, service, and hope. And their widows, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren–they continue to remain steadfast in the Word, in our circle, running their own race of faith.
My church is the humble reverence of communion. Breaking bread together. Partaking of His body. Drinking of the cup, together—His blood. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering together.
My church is filled with lighthouses that welcome strangers, orphans, believers, the lost– an extension outside the four walls of our gathering place, the sanctuary. To those who are no longer able to come and worship, to strangers in need. They are not forgotten.
On this particular Sunday morning, I sat in awe of his courage–for him to walk through the doors and worship with my church, this man whose skin was different but his heart the same. He stood in the midst of our congregation. I watched him as he stood and sang during the offering song. He didn’t need a song book. He knew the words by heart. I saw a deacon and others in my church welcome him, reaching out a hand in fellowship. He was one that never returned. Could it be, we as a church have entertained angels as the Bible speaks? In my heart—I believe.
My church. My undeserved grace.
Are we a flawless people?
My church is simply filled with imperfects holding on to the only perfect One.
And the Advent candles glow and the candles flicker in the windows on this Christmas Eve morning. And this visitor among us– her trembling hands wipe away her tears, and Christ is here.