I attended the church of my youth this Sunday. The same carpet was in the sanctuary, the same banner my mother made for Lent was hanging in the back of the sanctuary. It is still beautiful. I love that church. I love the brown bricks I remember them placing one at a time on all the bits of the church that grew up around me as I grew up in it. I love the blue carpet that hides stains well and the baptismal I hid in while playing sardines at the youth group lock in.
I grew up in that church. Was confirmed, baptised, and married by the same preacher. When he compliments my writing my heart is so deeply touched. I ran into his wife outside of the sanctuary as I was herding my two children into the children’s wing for Sunday school and plastic kitchen play time. The same woman who showed me the Roman Road and who led me in the sinners prayer when I was in the third grade and curious about heaven after the Wednesday Night Alive programming was over.
My family has been called, to a city 653 miles south on 75, and I married an academic, so who knows where we will end up when the job search is all said and done. If you are called, I pray you go. I am so very glad we did. But, I think we romanticize the calling and the going. This Sunday, as I sat in the sanctuary where I learned to hear God’s voice, I was reminded that staying is a Holy work.
May God bless those who stay, the ones who buy presents for the baby shower, the high school graduation, the wedding shower, and the next generation of babies. May they know that the love they lavish on, with the fancy sandwiches and the beautiful bows, is never forgotten, is deeply holy work.
May God bless those who stay, those who remember the gift of the four-year old Sunday school class they were not responsible for leading when they were young mothers, and decide, 25 years later, that it is time to pay that gift forward.
May God bless those who stay, through the preacher changes, and the music adjustments, and the building committees and the constantly changing VBS themes. May they feel seen and heard. May they know that there work is exciting and important. May God continue to make all things new.
May God bless those who stay, those who are born into a church and choose to bore their babies into the same church. May they have the courage to grow and change as they reach for their God. may they feel courageous, as it takes courage to change right where you are.
May God bless those who stay, who take their whole lives and invest into a single community. May their bounty be multiplied, may their joy be overflowing. May they know that staying and investing and noticing those who come and go, and those who also stay, is truly the work of a loving God.