Sometimes people ask me what goes on at a church during the week. For a lot of people church is something that only happens on Sundays, but church is a lot more than that.
Being an active part of an active church like HERITAGE is one of life's great privileges and ought to be savored, but as the sage philosopher Ferris Bueller reminds us, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." So if you haven't taken the time to look around your church in a while, here's just a slice of what being the church at HERITAGE is like--at least on one Wednesday and Thursday in July.
As I sit writing this on Thursday morning I hear our pianist and her cousin rehearsing the rollicking piano duet “Brethren, We Have Met To Worship” in the sanctuary upstairs. They’ll be leading us in worship on July 26th.
At the same time about 25 people are eating hot dogs with all the fixings in our fellowship hall downstairs. I'm about to go join them--tough job, I know!
And it gets even worse. When the hot dogs are gone, I'll have to eat pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert before settling into some high stakes games of canasta and dominoes. I'll get through it somehow.
Before I can even get to the hot dogs, though, a van from Sutallee Baptist Church pulls up with 500 brown bag lunches. We’ll deliver them to hungry children tomorrow as part of our summer lunch program. Our delivery drivers are actually out right now with today’s lunches. They should be back soon.
But right now the Sutallee van is here. So a former business school dean from North Dakota, a retired railroad worker from Texas and a rising 9th grader excited to start high school in a few weeks work together to carry 500 lunches inside.
All of this is being orchestrated and supervised by a retired elementary school teacher who is here all day every day during the summer to make all of this happen.
While all of that is going on, I take a second to notice exactly who's here today to play cards.
One of the people here to play canasta spent most of yesterday sitting in a hospital waiting room with the wife of a husband who was having surgery. The husband and wife aren’t here today, but they'll be back for Game Day next month if the recovery from surgery goes as planned, and everyone here is praying that it does.
Another who’s here today made homemade blueberry ice cream last week with blueberries from his own garden to help us celebrate the 4th of July.
I see two others who I know have done something unbelievably generous for a third member of our card playing crew in a time of great need. I could get a little choked up just thinking about it.
Later I leave the card table to help one church member submit her weekly column to another church member at the local paper in time to be published tomorrow. Her email was acting up at home.
And I’ve also been privileged today to talk with someone about baptism and what it means to publicly profess your faith in Christ for the very first time.
In the last 24 hours I’ve met with people from two different companies about possibly working with us as part of our ongoing strategic planning process. It just so happens that a representative from one of those company goes to a church led by friends of mine, Nathan and Carrie Dean. Through our mutual connection with Edgewood Church we discovered that we've volunteered at the same elementary school in downtown Atlanta.
Also in the last 24 hours I’ve visited hospital rooms and nursing homes--some rooms are happy, some rooms are sad, some are somewhere in between. I’ve prayed with people who are grieving and people who are just happy to have someone to talk to. And I've talked on the phone with church members who have lost loved ones I've been praying for.
Last night at prayer meeting 15 of us sat in a circle and shared prayer concerns before we prayed together for sick people to be made well, broken people to be made whole and for God to bless our community.
And then we put our prayers into action by filling 325 backpacks with school supplies for children who will need them when they go back to school in about a month.
So there it is, a day in the life of a church, mostly just people being people together.
But it's also more than that. We're people learning how to be better people together, and sometimes we're lucky enough to find God in the middle of it all. Every day at church is a new adventure--an adventure we can make a regular part of our lives if we choose--an adventure that's designed to last a lifetime.
An elementary schooler from Suttalee Baptist helped our volunteers unload the lunches they brought today. As he jumped back on the van as they were leaving he yelled, “See you next year,” because this isn’t a one-time thing for him any more than it’s a one-time thing for us. Praise God.
As I finish writing, the cousins on the piano are still playing. But now they're practicing “This Little Light of Mine.” When they get to "Hide it under a bushel? No/ I'm gonna let it shine" I start to whistle along.
And I’ve apparently been pecking away at the computer too long now. That rising 9th grader I mentioned earlier just walked in to ask me if I’m gonna come out and play canasta. That sounds like a good idea. l'm not sure how to play, but I think I better give it a shot.
To borrow a phrase, it is an odd and wondrous calling, the calling to serve a local church, and I’m lucky to call it my own. It sure beats working.
See you Sunday.