My St. James Family

I don’t remember a time when I did not know that I belonged in church, even if I didn’t belong anywhere else. I have belonged to churches where I didn’t feel like I belonged, but let’s face it: churches are made up of flawed human beings. It is those flaws which bring us together.

This evening, my husband and I went to the soup supper and Advent service at our church, St. James Lutheran. I think I have written before that I consider myself a Christian who attends a Lutheran church. My son says that my current church is the most Baptist Lutheran church he has ever attended and has, in fact, threatened to flick his Bic, something he knows would embarrass me profusely. Still, we do have all kinds of people at St. James. Some of them cross themselves. Some of them lift their hands in praise. And it is easy to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I am sure God led my husband and me here when we moved away from our “blood” family.

That was high on my mind as my church “family” and I joined hands to bless our evening meal just like I do with my family at home. How nice it was to belong. To be with people who weren’t self-conscious about joining hands. The director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center was there, but his wife was working. Several of our older members who have battled cancer managed to make it. They kept us updated on those who needed prayer. And I sat next to a widow who runs errands for other widows. The college students were there. And although there weren’t many, there were small children, too.

The meal was simple, a few kinds of soup (including Campbell’s Tomato from a can) and grilled cheese sandwiches. Someone brought a couple pies. We drank water, milk and coffee. But we sat around tables of sixteen and actually connected. And then we worshipped to connect some more.

All the people I talked to tonight were conscious of needs. And imperfections. And they were in the place where they knew the needs would be addressed and the imperfections tolerated. They were in the place where they belonged.

Hebrews 11:13-16 talks about some of the Old Testament saints and how they saw the promises of Scripture. Verse 13 in the King James Version says they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth.” That’s how I have often felt, I guess. Not that this earthly life does not have its pleasures, but that there’s something better waiting for me.

Hebrews goes on to say, this time in the NIV, “14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.”

That’s how I felt tonight. That I was with people who felt the call of that heavenly country, and it was that call which drew us together. We fellowshipped in hope, and that other country, that place where we belong, was just a little closer.

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