Small Town Church

As our gray Ford Expedition pulled onto the road this morning, we caught a glimpse of our neighbor’s blue Expedition speeding down a side street.

“He’s racing us!” Will said, laughing, finding his own shortcuts to take. We hurled down a back alley only to lose the race by a few seconds. But we all entered the church door together, full of gladness and goodwill.

My little girls trotted after me to the church kitchen to deposit a luscious plate of gingerbread that Keane and I had made the night before. Judging by the amount of cookies consumed by my offspring Sunday after Sunday, my contribution to the cookie supply was long overdue.

Our family made a drinking-fountain stop before settling into a bench with a flurry of children and paraphernalia. Somehow, when we get to church the children suddenly remember that they are hungry or thirsty or need a bathroom. But this morning we all ended up in the bench as the nine-thirty bells rang.

For today’s service, our family was assigned the Scripture reading and lighting of candles, which was a classic fail.

Will was the only one who maintained his elegance on the stage while reading Isaiah 60. Keane and Desiree got distracted by the cute shepherds in the nativity scene and dropped the shepherd’s staff on the floor. I held a toddler who yanked on my sweater, trying to wriggle down to race that beautiful red-carpet aisle. Elijah was the acolyte but his candle lighter kept going out and he had black ashes on his nose. (The pastor came to our rescue with a box of matches.) Stuart never showed up at all, because as he said later, “I don’t like standing in front of everyone.”

Elijah was finally getting the candles lit when his foot knocked a display of poinsettias. With a loud crash, several pots rolled over the floor. Desiree responsibly scurried to save the poor plants and restore them to their proper spots.

A little sympathetic laughter rippled through the audience, but people were kind. They all saw, as did we, that none of us have to be perfect to worship Jesus.

Nonetheless, I was glad to settle back into our bench with our herd.

That part over, I was able to relax. Gospel-centered teaching nourished my soul as our pastor taught the Scriptures in his gentle way. Cookie-time nourished the children’s tummies and our friendships. An elderly gentleman kindly picked up my foster child’s dropped gingerbread.

We all drank coffee together, and the neighbor who raced Will to church suggested we meet up for lunch.

I went home feeling completely content.

In a forgotten place like Medicine Lodge, Kansas, we are a light to our world just the way we are, because we love Jesus. Our family and our church is a light.

The gathering on Sunday mornings is small, but that is not a bad thing. It is the people who really care about Jesus who keep showing up. A winnowing of sorts is taking place. What is left behind is certainly imperfect but ever so real and true.

Indeed, it is all I want, this giving and receiving of Christ and each other. Perfection isn’t part of the picture. But performance, age, status, and background don’t matter when we are centered on the sweetness and purity and love of Christ.

I think this small-town odd assortment that we call “us” is exactly how church should be.


 

10 thoughts on “Small Town Church

  1. M’Lou

    Oh, my, Rosina, you did it again! Such an inspired writing and so “us”! You nailed it and we have sorely missed church with our frequent travels! Looking forward to next week, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!”❤️❤️❤️

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  2. Jamie Lonker

    Amen Rosina! It was all very sweet to see! Makes me miss my “little” terribly!! He celebrates his 25th tomorrow & I have not idea how that is even possible. Thankful to have stayed the same age as he got older!!! 😉 ha Have a blessed week!! See yall soon!! Keep on herdin’ sister!!!

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  3. Dorothy Stutler

    I love our church and our wonderful members like you and your precious family, Rosina. You guys did just fine this morning and brought a smile to all of us. We are truly blessed to have you in our church family! Love you ❤️

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  4. Victoria

    Ah Ro! I had to giggle about the kids. I could just see them up there being their spunky little selves! Isn’t it so beautiful that in the presence of Christ and his body we can just be? No stipulations but just to come and worship as we are. I’m so blessed in my little church too. So thankful that God has redeemed “church” for us both! Can’t wait to see you soon and love on the aforementioned kids! 😀

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  5. Browsing

    We are blessed when we are able to gather in Jesus’ name and worship him in spirit and in truth. How wonderful you’ve found a safe and peaceful place to fix your eyes and thoughts on Jesus with other parts of the body.

    “My brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Romans 7:4

    How exciting. I often wonder how it must have been for John the Baptist to grasp this truth about the Bride and Bridegroom based only on the Old Testament and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. No wonder Jesus said he was the greatest up to that time. How blessed we are to be able to know the truth, too, and worship him where we are.

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