Monday, July 9, 2012

Welcomed Like Family

If last week was the loudest church I've ever been to, this Sunday I attended the quietest and the smallest.  Upon hearing that I didn't have a church home, my friend C invited me to her church.

"It's really small," she warned, "But we really like it."

Getting to the church involved instructions with lots of "turn left immediately" and "keep an eye out for..." and I still got it wrong the first two times I went there.  I've been to the Triple 7 Baptist Fellowship three times now, twice for Sunday service and once for a women's Bible study that I plan to continue.

The church building itself is out in the country.  There are horse-and-rider signs along the way, and the trees dip their heads to shield your drive.  The term "Sunday drive" popped into my head, because this is such an idyllic and peaceful setting for a house of God.

A teeny house of God.  No more than 10 cars lined the driveway of the church, and the mobile home in which the Fellowship meets is not overly large.  Entering by a sliding-glass door, a visitor is greeted by a sweet kitchen and the smell of something delicious.  This Sunday was right after Pastor Franks' birthday, and I was told that of course I was staying for lunch.

There is an ad I've heard that reads, "When you're here, you're family," and this church community is one of the few places where I've truly felt that.  One congregant mentioned that, well, most of them were kin after all.  I gave up trying to remember relationships and just focused on names.  I found myself apologizing to people I knew I'd been introduced to before.  They were very forgiving.

I got there a little early, since I didn't get lost this Sunday, and I was in time to hear much of the Sunday School lesson.  No fuss, just a small hand waving me in and the Pastor's wife saying "we're just finishing up".  The lesson, which was continued in much of Pastor Franks' later sermon, was about how it can be well with our soul, even when it is not well with our circumstances.  Even when the physical world tosses horrible things at us, we can find peace in the spiritual world and know that it will work out.

Verse: Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

All things.

Our song?  "It Is Well With My Soul," of course.

Written by a man whose son had died, whose finances had been obliterated in the Chicago fire, whose four daughters had died on board a vessel headed for their new home, who had waited to travel later with his family only to read "Saved alone" from his grieving wife who had survived the shipwreck-- the song is by someone who knew pain.  And yet, "it is well with my soul".  There is a lot of comfort found in these old verses, and comfort in sitting in a converted living room with new friends and "family".

When I told Pastor Franks about this project, by the way, he held my hands in his strong, aged ones and said, "Don't be misled.  Check what they say against that (nodding at my Bible) and you'll know if it's true.  Don't be led astray."

Many times he said to me and to others, "I am so, so glad you're here."  Pastor Franks, truly, the pleasure was all mine.

It is Well With My Soul--

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Horatio Spafford

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