On the last day of our Sabbatical weekend in Yoder, Kansas, we rise to worship and spend a few hours with the local body of believers.
We are invited to the Journey Mennonite Church – a group of Christ-followers who share some of the Amish beliefs and ancestral beginnings. Simple values. The Bible as its guidebook. Friendly folks who shake our hands and treat us like family.
The church is an old structure, repurposed for more contemporary worship. We wear our blue jeans and T-shirts, comfy shoes and no one cares. So different from the traditions of my past. I like it. I know that even Reverend G would feel welcome here.
This modern group of believers includes many young families, and they keep the children with them in worship. I love that. The children learn how to pray and how to serve. The young ones are in charge of passing red buckets for the offering.
This is a sad day for this body as they say good-bye to a pastor. He is leaving to tend to family dynamics in another state. A brave man, committed to God’s will. A valiant church, willing to send him away.
God will fill the gap, send another to minister to these sheep, to ease their grieving hearts.
God also fills the gap in me as we worship together. First, we sing the contemporary praises with guitar and voice, then we move into a couple of hymns. My soul gasps as the words of one of my favorite hymns project onto the wall.
“When peace like a river attendeth my soul. When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well. It is well with my soul.”
As the chorus builds, the guitar is silenced and we sing in the six-part harmony of my youth. Worship comes easy within such beauty. The blending voices of young couples, us graying folks and the next generation – all together in one spirit praise God that all is well.
I raise my hands even as my throat fills with tears. The Alpha and Omega of my soul is in this place. Worship swells in abundance as the chords build a crescendo within this aging building.
And I know that wherever I am, whether on sabbatical in the small town of Yoder or on ministry duty in the busy-ness of Kansas City – it is indeed well with my soul.