On a cool fall day – as the leaves began changing their seasonal clothes, I joined a friend for Sunday service in a country church.
The white clapboard exterior adorned with an iron bell, calling the community to gather. An open door – both figuratively and in reality. All welcome. All embraced.
Picture the TV show, “Little House on the Prairie” and the serene little church where families sat together and knew everyone – where all were accepted and worshipped together.
Wooden pews, missing from contemporary church buildings, enabled us to sit close, to feel connected as the organ invited us into the prelude.
Bead board on the ceiling, a treasure for this “Fixer Upper” fan, and a real wooden pulpit fashioned by a craftsman.
We stood together to speak words of commitment, our common belief in the God of the ages. With syncopated action, we pulled hymnbooks from their ledges and turned to the song that echoed with the remembered faith of our fathers.
I did not need to see the words, knowing every note and the lyrics of all three verses. My favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” echoed with the harmonies around me. Oh glory! Four-part harmony once again – its absence unknown to my soul suddenly awakened.
Then a message of hope from the book of Ephesians, delivered by the passionate pastor – the shepherd of this country flock. The female pastor – yes – a woman embraced and accepted for her leadership qualities, obviously called to this community and loved by all.
My grieving heart at peace. The raw emotions somehow salved in the peace of this place. A step back to where I once grew up, so like the country church of my past.
We have lost something precious with our darkened sanctuaries, our theatrical great rooms with cappuccino-smelling lobbies and stackable chairs. With our mega churches and multiple services, we no longer recognize the friendly faces of those who share our faith.
Yes – faith remains intact no matter what the setting. But the simple purity of a country church service emanated hope by its very presence into the sacred.
We stood, sang together the Doxology, then received the benediction. Grace covered us, and we exited in peace.
Once again, I was filled with hope, embraced by this community and the God who placed them there. And within the safety of that place, my soul found momentary rest.
©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
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The description of the church and the singing reminds me so much of the church where I grew up. Thanks for evoking the memories. You’ve got me curious, where was this church? I’d love to see it someday! Take care.
Thanks for the comment, Marilyn. The church is in Centerville, Kansas – out in the country and filled with beautiful people.
Very well said Rebecca. I can picture all of it. Oh, to go back to the days of hymns and no coffee bars. Actual pulpits made of wood and a message not wrapped up in a “series”. Spoken straight from the heart. So glad it was soothing for you.
Thank you. Yes….it was a beautiful place and sacred moments.
There’s nothing like revisiting places like this. Of substance, simplicity and warmth. Thank you for calling up some fond memories of my own past!
Yes – these places are rare now, but still so special when we can find them.
May I go with your friend this Sunday?
Have you met Jeannie at the HACWN meetings? This is her church in Centerville. If you’re serious, I’ll connect you.
I cannot agree more about your thoughts of the “country church.” We long for those simple and faith filled connections. Thanks for sharing. It’s food for thought and nourishment to our souls.
Thank you, Linda, for your comment. It’s hard to find those special places with acceptance for all.