Monday, July 30, 2018
Ever since we've moved, we've been, well, homeless, when it comes to church. That's neither confession nor indictment, because if it's a fair assessment, it's a condition we've created ourselves. If we are homeless, we are so by choice.
We've still got a membership, and, about half the time, we attend worship at the place we have for decades. But that church is something less than a half hour away, and I still--five years after we've moved--can't help but think it's crazy to make that pilgrimage when literally dozens of wonderfully accepting venues sit just down the road.
Still, for two people who kept the Sabbath for 65 years by attending church religiously, not once but twice every Sunday, this hit-and-miss thing we're up to is both sweet and sour. Yesterday, we stayed home in the morning. I sat outside out back and read an odd old book about the Dutch in Nebraska. Maybe sitting in the silent sunshine shouldn't be called "worship," but the word should just seems like unnecessary baggage when far more life lies behind you than ahead. If what I did with my Sunday morning yesterday wasn't worship, I don't care to hear.
Besides, we'd determined we'd still go twice: once in the home with Dad, who's 99; and once a half hour away at a place we can most safely call "home." We had a beautifully silent Sunday morning out here in the country, and still maintained the old quota.
Chapel at the Prairie Ridge Home isn't particularly exciting. A little more than half of those who attend know where they are. More often than not, visiting preachers will rehash an old sermon; but theirs is a tough job because it's as easy to talk down to the elderly as it is to fly over their heads. The good preachers try really hard, and some churches bring a whole crowd, which is a joy. Yesterday, things were, well, perfunctory. But then grace abounds simply in seeing Dad sing words he can't read but know by heart.
Afterward, we stay for coffee around a table in the dining room. The faces change almost weekly, because people come and go with startling regularity at Prairie Ridge. Residents aren't particularly happy to be there, but no one ever walks away on their own. Still, a half hour of conversation is likely more than most of them get on a good day.
Last night, I couldn't help but think one of my own colleagues, a man who had a lot to do with the design of First Church, where we went at night, wasn't right about big, roomy worship spaces, even though "with it" churches today choose bowling alleys and ex-car dealerships for sanctuaries, bringing Jesus to the world. First Church isn't an old church, but it's old school, big and roomy and resonant, so there's room for the organ, itself a relic.
It was a wonderful service, a profession of faith by a young lady, daughter of friends; congregational prayer by an old man, once a colleague; sermon by a young preacher, also a friend, a man doesn't shy away from the prophets. And, oh, yes, astonishing music from the best violinist in the county. And then, after all of that, we celebrated communion.
All tolled, not a bad Sunday at all for a couple of homeless people. Not bad at all.
This morning, I'm thankful, really thankful, for yesterday, the Sabbath.