I come from a family steeped in tradition and faith. We go to church together, when we gather for family events. We pray the same table prayer at every meal. We revel in all the history of our family and embrace our past. It is not uncomfortable to me. The traditions give me a solid foundation to live my life. My faith guides my every decision that crosses my path.
This Christmas season my brother, father and I attended the small country church where my mother guides her congregants as their pastor. I have attended a few times over the years. Sometimes with my children and sometimes just with my parents. I like this tiny little church. It sits on the crest of a country, dirt road. There is no parking lot, they simply widened the road to accommodate the parking vehicles. My mother, being their pastor, has a little sign posted at her parking space that reads, “Reserved for Pastor”. I have always found that to be a kind gesture for this congregation’s pastor, since this congregation shares their pastor with another small church in a town not far from this church. There is, of course, a small fenced in cemetery next to the building and swing set on the opposite side of the church. As you park and walk up to the front of the church it has always amazed me at the beauty of this church. It is not a flashy, fancy church but I have always felt drawn to the building and the community of people who share their own personal faith with each other.
For in this small church is housed a community of people, that feels as welcoming and loving as coming home to family you have known forever. The attendance is small in number, but the community is huge. There are welcomes with genuine smiles. Sharing of stories like you talk everyday. Then the service of our faith starts. The light streams in through the stained glass windows, casting colorful patches everywhere. The organist plays with the precision of a professional. The congregation joins in with joyful singing. Prayers go up to the heavens with heartfelt praise. The sermon touches your soul and gives your mind something to mull over in the coming week. It is a very traditional hour of worship. Recalling my childhood, singing songs I have not sung in a very long time and remembering each note like I sang it just yesterday. The service concludes and everyone gathers in the tiny narthex on this Sunday after Christmas. We lightly talk of our Christmases and what family we were able to celebrate with in our gatherings. We talk of the weather, it is so cold today. We laugh together. We wish only wellness for each other. It is community that is much too large for the tiny confines of this quaint building.
As we leave back down the dirt road, which has been freshly covered with white rock, I reminisce of the small country churches I have attended over my years. I ponder locations, people, faith, and the building itself. I think by far this small country church on the hill is my favorite. Just as the children’s sunday school song says…I am the church, you are the church. We are the church together.
Have a blessed day!