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You know “they” say that you can’t go home again. And perhaps there’s some truth to that statement. But in my experience, I haven’t found that to be totally the case.
When I first moved to Nashville, part of the reason was to attend a church that seemed to me to be dynamic and vibrant, passionate in their love for the Lord, and unswerving in their desire to follow Him. I’m going to call that church, Old Church, and it was pastored at the time by a man who is a remarkable teacher, and between the soul-satisfyingly rich music, and the inspiring solidly Biblically based teaching, I was in hog heaven. Pardon my mixed metaphor of the swine and the divine. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite kosher, does it? ; )
Anywhoo, another thing I owe to Old Church was the opportunity to meet the wonderful man who would become my best friend in the whole wide world and my partner for life – aslongaswebothshalllive. (And no, that’s not his name, that’s just a time frame.) I met the Big Bison through a small group that formed from that church, and so how can I EVER repay that debt? I cannot. I simply can’t.
But time marches on, and life brings change, and my dear husband and I went through some great personal tragedies. In the course of four years, first my mother died, then the BB’s father died, then we suffered a couple of miscarriages, and then the BB’s mother died. All these losses were unexpected, and tragic. By the time my mother-in-law died quite suddenly, we found ourselves in great grief. We felt as though we were constantly waiting for the NEXT shoe to drop, and that it was likely that the whole closet full was coming down at any moment.
At the same time, Old Church was going through some changes of her own as a church body. The pastor we adored had stepped down as pastor. The worship seemed to us to be changing from simple and Spirit-led to a production number, where the worshipers were being encouraged to sing louder, clap harder, jump higher, and dance with all your might – and if you weren’t – well, you weren’t doing your job.
It’s hard to say if that’s really the way things were, or if that’s just the way we, in our grief, were perceiving things. However, after week after week and month after month of feeling this way, on one particular Sunday, after repeated entreaties from the worship leader for the congregation to get with the program, the BB and I looked at each other, rolled both sets of our eyes heavenward, and walked out. And that was pretty much it for us with Old Church for 14 years. It’s a large church, and no one ever even missed us.
So, we church shopped for about a year, and found a new church where several of our friends who were also Old Church refugees had settled, and it became home for the next 13 years. And it was good. We were well and truly loved there, and served in a lot of different areas, because that’s what you do when it’s a small church.
But when our dear son, the Man Cub, turned 13, the little church that had been a haven to us began making changes of their own, and one of their changes involved joining up with a youth group from another church, and this was a full hour away from our house. Gas prices were continuing to climb, our Sundays were being spent in the car commuting 45 minutes to and from church, and it was just time to seek a youth group for our son that would disciple him, but was perhaps a little bit closer to our home in the Boonies. Meanwhile, back at Old Church, our old friend, Rob, had been asked to direct the youth program. And our old friend Greg was leading a mission trip to Mexico for junior high kids. And then we heard that our beloved former pastor was coming back for a season to serve as interim pastor.
And so all our spiritual planets seemed to be aligning and settling directly over the top of the roof of Old Church. And, thus, we came home again. That was two years ago. And in that time, God has also answered my prayers for friendship/sisterhood/a feeling of belonging by causing me to repeatedly run into a warm loving woman by the name of Diane at Costco. Week after week after week. And from those meetings, and the fact that the BB and I elected to sit in the “Beloved Former pastor section” where, “coincidentally” Diane also makes her Sunday morning home, I have been plugged in to the neatest group of women. And I’m enjoying these Friday mornings with Beth Moore and these lovely Old Church sisters more than I can ever say.
So, today, Beth has asked us to rewrite Psalm 122, the third of the psalms of ascent. Here’s the original, from the NIV:
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
to praise the name of the LORD
according to the statute given to Israel.
There the thrones for judgment stand,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
To personalize this psalm, (Beth is MAKING her students do this – I do not think I can improve upon God’s Word! I am just seeking to apply scripture in a very personal way to my own life, to see what God might be saying to me.) I chose to think of the house of the Lord as being my Old Church, one of the driving forces in drawing me to Nashville.
So here’s the Booniefied (not bona fide) version of Psalm 122:
I rejoiced when my dear husband said to me.
“Let’s go back to our old church.”
Our tooshies are once again tucked into your pews, O Old Church.
Old Church is built like an architectural mish-mash –
the old and the new melded together.
That is where the people go up
the people of the LORD
to praise the Name of the LORD
according to the urgings given in Scripture.
There the table of the LORD is set,
the table where He communes with His people.
Pray for the peace of Old Church
May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
as we carry Your love outside the walls.
For the sake of my brothers and sisters and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek to be a blessing to you.
You know, I’m so thankful, that occasionally in life, you CAN go home again.