Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

a year of morning thanks


Just another puzzling thing about King David, the singer, is the near ecstatic joy he gets when he's on his way up to the house of the Lord. To him, of course, God almighty had an actual street address. Ye olde Israelites found the I AM locally, in the temple, so a visit meant actually greeting the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Now I know church is supposed to be that, too--I mean worship in church--I mean going to an actual building, entering a sanctuary, singing a few hymns, doing some thoughtful meditation, praying, giving gifts--I mean doing church. I mean, God is supposed to be there--and he is. But he's also here in the basement beside me, and on sweet Saturday mornings I meet him on the bluffs above the river west of town too. He's everywhere. What I'm saying is, it's just not the same today as it was in Israel is 800 B. C. Not that I want to go back.

Church, today, is probably as much about fellowship as it is about actually meeting God. I'm not complaining or saying the sky is falling, and I know there are people, loads of them, who are doing all they can to make worship a heavenly experience. That's all fine. These days most people don't go to a specific church because of a particular brand of theology; they may choose on the basis of a particular style of worship perhaps, but my guess is that an even more important ingredient is the accessibility of real fellowship. Show me a church without a fellowship hall, and I'll show you a graveyard.

Once upon a time I played a secondary role in the start-up of a brand new church. That was an exciting time because it seemed we were writing our own rules, tossing old wineskins, creating something out-of-the-box. You never knew who might show up week to week, and most people didn't yet know each other well enough to get annoyed by any of our all-too-human peccadilloes.

Last night we celebrated the birth of a church, not the one I was a part of, and the opportunity to remember brought a rosy glow to the faces of those who were there 35 years ago. The ambience was soft and loving and sweetly nostalgic. Those people, I thought, love to remember that exciting new fellowship being born around them.

Once the Grim Reaper comes to Everyman with news of his impending demise, the very first comrade to leave, if I remember correctly, is Fellowship, whose quick desertion makes him seem about as shallow--and cold--as the patches of ice in our driveway.

The fickleness of fellowship isn't the point, however, and last night was sweet and loving. Besides, fellowship is not some fair-weather friend. Sure, when we die no one comes with, but that doesn't mean that those we love won't stand by as long as they can, an army of heavenly angels in jeans and Nikes, toting lasagna and almond bars when you most need them, praying on-call, 24-7.

This morning, after a night of celebration for a birthday I don't remember, I'm deeply thankful for fellowship, something I'd wish on everyone. Fellowship may not die with us, but it certainly makes life more rich and abundant.


Jennifer said...

Great piece here, Jim. Because of what we've been experiencing these last weeks, my favorite part is:

" army of heavenly angels in jeans and Nikes, toting lasagna and almond bars when you most need them, praying on-call, 24-7."

I'm familiar with those angels.

Cara DeHaan said...

Hey, I know that steeple! And I can picture the fellowship hall beneath it... and I can still feel the fellowship offered there. Happy Birthday, Covenant.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... we did chose for the theology, and found that while fellowship may extend all the way to the end of life on this earth, it does not extend past the first sin. So, I assume it's all fellowship -- exclusively, so to speak -- and no theology at all. Theology, after all, would be inclusive.

Anonymous said...

Fellowship without theology would be just a social club, wouldn't it?