Sunday, November 9, 2008

Here is the Church, and Here is the Steeple . . . .

As a child, my parents took me to church on a regular basis. We generally went to the "early service" and sat in our regular spot up in the balcony. We pretty much went to church every Sunday, unless we were sick or out of town. We lived on the complete opposite side of town from the church and the effort it took to go there was great in those days. As an extremely bashful, introverted teenager, I sometimes longed to go to a church in my neighborhood where my school-mates were----somewhere I already had friends and didn't have to work so hard to "fit in".

But, through the years, I stuck it out. With my mother's encouragement, particularly, I tried inviting friends from my neighborhood to go with me on Sunday nights----giving me the courage to be there and someone to talk to when everyone else segregated themselves into school groups.

As I got older, went to college, got married and then had children, I went through periods of time that I didn't go to church very regularly and even visited other churches. I wanted to be sure that the church I chose was "my church" and not just the church of my parent's choosing. But, over and over again, I found that I had a feeling of "home" each time I came back to Noel and a sense that it was where I was to be. And it has become that---a place I belong and where I can worship and serve the way I was born to.

Once a parent, I followed that same example set forth by my parents. The girls and I attended church every Sunday and they were involved in Sunday School, youth group and mission trips.
While I used to consider my life quite boring by most standards, I have to admit that there have been some particularly rough spots---times that I never dreamed I would have to face and certainly never wanted my children to have to go through! Yet, through them all, my church family has been there for us, surrounding us with love, prayers and support and reminding me of the Greater Love. I honestly do not know how people make it through life without that kind of support system and pray that each of my girls experience that same kind of love and spiritual support.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit church with Jana for the first time. I'd met (and immediately liked) her pastor at their wedding, but this was the first opportunity I'd had to attend worship with her. She's been a member there for just a couple of years at most and has become involved in many aspects of church activities and leadership.

While I've always known what an amazing person Jana is, to see the connections she has with these people (who are strangers to me), filled me with such joy and warmth. They love her and respect her and support her. She has found "her place" and I know that she has formed ties there that will never be broken.
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