Sunday, March 10, 2013

Transient Worship

Two weeks ago, I drove by a little storefront church I'd been curious about for a couple of years.  "The Homecoming," proclaimed the sign. "Welcome Home!" was on the door.  I made a note of the worship times, and added it to my list.

Last Sunday, I was out of town and in need of a more private kind of worship.

This Sunday, I rose early despite the change to Daylight Savings time, and drove to The Homecoming.

The parking lot was empty.

The door was dark.

The service times and contact information, once so easily read on the window, were now scraped clean.  Only the slightest edge of white gave a hint to the fact that anything used to be there at all.  There were still Bible verses framing the entrance.

This isn't the first time. Usually, though, I will discover the church has closed (or moved, or disbanded or...) as I do my pre-Sunday research. There is a church I was interested in next door to a church I was attending, and I wanted to see when they held service-- but no one was in the parking lot and there wasn't even a contact phone number on the sign.  Usually, I can find an alternative.

Today, my alternative was another storefront church just down the street. I hadn't researched it recently, though, and lo and behold, even the arts academy that shared its location has moved to a different spot.

I do wish they'd add a sign like this.

This got me thinking about this area, and about the transient nature of any military town. Our population is one that is constantly changing, and church congregations are anything but steady and permanent. While it is true that many people retire here, and some people work here and want to stay in the area, many more are here temporarily. We who are connected to the military serve at the needs of the government, and often those needs change very quickly. We make friends, we get jobs, and we find a church home -- only to receive orders and have to start all over again.

It also got me thinking about the transience of worship.  So far I have the following churches on my list, either that I've attended or I plan to attend or was unable to attend: a church in a mobile home, two in storefronts, two in schools, one in a metal building that seems very temporary, and one that is held in a city park (except during inclement weather).  Any church has the concern of keeping parishioners, and bringing in enough funds to keep the church doors open and the lights on-- but these churches seem to be so much more temporary.  It must be tremendously difficult to make people feel as though they have a church home -- when the home has to be broken down every day after service, when the doors are only open on Sundays because it's a storefront the rest of the week, when the option of service is gone if it rains.

I don't know how they do it. Obviously, the ones I saw today...didn't. It's kind of sad.

At the same time though, Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them."  There are times when we can commune between friends.  Or we can share the Gospel with our children when they ask a question.  We can share our testimony, if we are brave enough.  And we can certainly "pray without ceasing".

How may I pray for you, since the physical church was closed today?

This is the first song I ever learned in sign.

This song always makes me feel good.

P.S.  The Homecoming?  They moved down a street or two and they hold service in the Christian radio station building.  I'll be there next Sunday.  :)  And to think I got laughed at tonight for calling them and leaving a message.

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