Today I am thankful for church.
I feel a bit hypocritical being thankful for something that Husband and I have not attended with any regularity since we moved to South Dakota, but I find it to be ever as important as it has always been in my life.
I grew up going to a small brick church in the country. My Granny was my Sunday school teacher, my mom played the piano, both (along with my Papaw Es) were in the choir, and my Dad handled the sound system. Going to church on Sunday WAS NOT and option. It didn’t matter what mischief you got into on Saturday night, come Sunday morning your booty better be dressed, awake, and seated in a pew.
When Husband and I first became serious, we were living in Charlotte, and we searched for a church to join for a while. In spite of the great discipline my parents had instilled in me about the necessity of attending church every Sunday, I’ll be the first to admit that when you are young, still in school, and left to your own devices, church can easily be put on the back-burner.
It wasn’t until we moved to South Charlotte, into our house, me settled into my full-time job and Husband settled into a full-time school schedule, that we actually got serious about finding a church to call home.
Oddly enough we found it in a movie theater.
Forest Hill is a ginormous church in Charlotte, with the main brick and mortar building located in south Charlotte. I can’t remember now how we happened upon their satellite service, but it just so happened to take place in a movie theater that was walking distance from our house. It was unlike any church experience I had ever had.
People filed into one of theaters, some dressed up in “church clothes” while others came in pulling their ear buds out of their ears because they had just ran to church. One lady even used to bring a small dog in her purse. There was free coffee donated by the coffee shop downstairs, and a very non-traditional band stood at the front singing and jamming to contemporary christian songs. The message was delivered on the big screen, as a live feed from the main church. Surprisingly, the sermons were based entirely on hard, scriptural facts (traditional values and all), but with amazing application to the modern world.
I think we were hooked from day one.
It became not only a place of worship for us , and one that we missed terribly if we were traveling for the weekend and couldn’t be there, but also a sort of retreat or haven. A place that after a week of stress, obstacles, deadlines, you name it, you could come in, grab a cup of coffee, and really be fed religiously. We loved our church.
When we moved back to Asheville to live in the barn, although attending my parent’s church a few times, we more often found ourselves pulling up Forest Hill’s service online and watching it. Our excuse at the time was that we were only going to be in Asheville for a short time and we didn’t really see a point in trying to find another church, when we were happy with our old one (granted we fully realized that there was the lack of fellowship and assembly with that plan).
Now that we are in South Dakota, we have followed a similar pattern. If we are home on a weekend, such as this morning, we tune into a message from Forest Hill. We know it isn’t the best way to “attend” church, and at some point we are going to have to commit to finding somewhere to actually go to and seek fellowship in.
But the point of this whole post was actually not to explain my entire relationship with church, but rather to give thanks for what it is and offers to my life. It’s always funny to me that no matter what lays hard on your heart, once you arrive at church, God finds some way to address it and work on it. More often than not, if not every single time, it seems I leave with a heart that has been softened and resolved, and spirits that are happy and at peace.
Even sitting in our living room, with Jeannie snoring next to me, and “church” taking place on our flat screen, it still has that same ability.
Church, whatever your definition of it, is nourishment. It’s a peace giver, a lesson teacher, a therapy session, an inner exposé, and it never ceases to amaze me how important it is to my happiness.