Home is a place of both rest and work! Today, Douglas and I joined one of the many churches near us. I have lost count of just how many there are, but this is the Bible Belt, so you can find churches across the street from each other or next-door to one another. We had visited a couple of churches since we moved to this small town of less than 13000 people, for being part of a church family is very important to us both.
We try to attend church on a regular basis, not just sporadically, as we need our souls fed and to feel a sense of belonging. I am mindful of the words of Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…”
I recognize that many people have valid reasons for not attending religious institutions, and it pains my heart to know that folks can be injured among God’s people. I have left a church myself over differences in how women should be counseled after domestic violence.
I believe that God doesn’t wish women to be submissive to the point of death. When a woman comes to her minister after being beaten by her husband, her emotions are raw and she is in great physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. She needs to find a place of refuge in her church, not judgment regarding her role as a wife or questions on what she has done or not done to upset him, or advice to remain regardless of the circumstances. But, some ministers don’t see it my way, and it’s hard to change legalistic thinking.
The church we chose was the church we attended the first week we moved into our new home. I liked the preacher’s message, the songs being sung, and the warm welcome of the members. But, more than those attributes, I was gobsmacked when one of the women came and threaded her arm through mine and said, “I came to take you to Sunday School!” I enjoyed the class of women over 50 years old. Their sense of camaraderie and obvious love for each other stirred up feelings of wanting to belong in my heart.
Both of us felt a sense of this church being where God was leading us to work and find rest and nourishment for our souls. As an interracial couple, sometimes we have a attended a predominantly black church or a predominantly white church. There are some multicultural churches, but the hours between 8 and 12 on Sunday morning is still the most segregated of the week.
This is a predominantly white church, with few people of color, but there is a sense of oneness there that made it a winner for both of us. We had already attended Wednesday night Bible study and Douglas has went to the men’s breakfast Bible study both of the Thursdays we have lived here and loved the time of sharing. Douglas also has met with the pastor to see how we could be used here, as we are both ordained ministers.
Therefore, we walked down the aisle to the minister today. Our initiation into the activities of the church had already began, so there were people who knew us and were glad of our decision. I am so looking forward to where God is leading us and excited to see how He will use us here.
Yes, we could log into an Internet service, streaming church on Facebook, but that is not enough for me. I need to shake hands and smile in people’s faces, to give compliments and watch people’s eyes light up. I need to inspire and encourage, for people to see the Jesus in me and to see the Jesus in them, coming together on one accord. When that happens, the power of God can do wonders in the world.