Not the usual Sunday for me. Didn’t rush home after worship service and Sunday class. I stayed longer than usual in church today. I parleyed with friends, ate a church-sponsored lunch offered in celebration of the church’s 70th anniversary, engaged in more social chats over lunch, greeted old friends I had not seen in a while, walked to the ladies’ powder room where I met twin sisters whom I’ve seen but never spoke with before, then drove home.
A very productive, meaningful Sunday for me, and I’ll tell you why.
I’m sitting right now, tapping away on my laptop, contemplating on all that happened this morning. Besides a wonderful, heartwarming worship and a very interesting class on Revelations led by an energetic and learned teacher – I heard stories. Stories of love rivetted with heartaches. Family stories. The kind that can tear your heart and evoke empathy for the troubles that despair relationships. The kind that seemingly, to a Godless world would mean travails that cannot be mended. But to a Godly world – would mean hope, strength, character building, and the power of an almighty God who can do all things – because with God, nothing is impossible.
I speak about searing misunderstandings between father and son, broken expectations of parents, the delicate balancing acts of a mother to keep the family together, the stifling uncertainty over a wayward youth’s future, the crippling fear of a young adult son about a father’s well-meant discipline, perhaps, all too rigid from the young man’s perspective, perhaps, all too lenient from the parent’s perspective; perhaps, just all too much for other family members to bear. We all know this isn’t a perfect world. We also know that love prevails, and where there’s love, we can surmount the unsurmountable, with God.
Listening to brothers and sisters in Christ, in my mind, clearly sends home the gist and thrust of worship I just attended. I heard Kevin Palau speak about his highly admired and respected father, Luis Palau, who as a youth, was encouraged, inspired and mentored by my church’s founding pastor, Ray Stedman. Kevin Palau also shared how his group worked with the mayor, district superintendent and community of Portland, Oregon to raise a fledging school to the standards, status and condition it now enjoys. His talk highlighted the teaching of “we are all in this together” – people of differing views and orientation, supporting and helping one another for a common cause. His message was an exhortation for us to help one another, and to see that where there are differences, there’s always a way.
Back to my little huddle. The stories were gripping; they were sad. Because I care, I want to help by praying for the brothers and sisters who shared and for their families – especially for the lovely mother caught up in the web of circumstances that challenge love and loyalty.
At the church lunch, I saw a dear couple who had become very important to my late husband and me. A sweet, humble couple in their advanced senior years, ever kind and ever loving. I normally do not attend church socials, and doing so today, I greeted this lovely couple who, in my mind, is the quintessential of faith lived. After lunch, I met twin sisters who I’ve seen in church before, but never really talked to. This time, I lingered a while in the lady’s room to introduce myself. I found that one of the twins is from Carolina. When Florence hit the Carolinas, she said that neighboring towns and cities were affected and flooded, but not her own small community. She has a home to go back to, she sighed in relief. While this is a praise, it also is a continuing prayer for God to take care of those affected by the storm.
Back at our lunch table, was a war veteran from the church’s recovery group, very smart, articulate and intriguing in his speech. He quizzed us, “Do you really know what happened to George Patton” (the American legendary and much-touted war hero). None at our table knew. Maybe, I don’t want to know; or just maybe, I’d like to know … that’ll be for another time.
But this Sunday, I spent a meaningful day just staying a little while longer in church, talking and listening to brothers and sisters in the faith. That makes my worship quite meaningful. I fellowshipped. Something tells me, I need to do a little more of that, a little more often.
Linda P. Jacob