Yesterday I had the chance to worship again at my “home” church, College Hills in Lebanon, TN. In April, I wrote some of my reflections regarding our last opportunity to worship at College Hills on Easter Sunday. I guess there’s just something about being back home that puts me in a reflective mood. But yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel that same familiar feeling as I worshiped with the community that formed me spiritually at a very early age. I know this probably sounds dramatic, but yesterday it struck me that in worship, you catch a glimpse of the soul of a church. The moments of praise and prayer and communion are just dripping with context within the life of a church community. I looked across the aisle and saw the faithful widow, her husband gone for nearly 25 years, eyes closed and heart full of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness in her life. I talked with an old friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years, catching up on life: kids, work, family. Sunny and I sat on the same pew with my sister and her husband and their children and it made me proud that we stand in continuity with our parents and grandparents and the faithful before them, a long line of faith extended to us and now to the next generation of our children. At the end of the hour, we honored the ministry of Johnny Markham, one of the “other men” who helped to shape and influence my life in more ways than I can possible recognize. As we stood to congratulate Johnny and his wife for 20 years of faithful service to our teens and their families, my heart just welled up with appreciation, admiration, and respect for this great man.
That’s the best way to describe what I felt as I worshiped alongside the men and women who changed my diapers and fed me Cheerios and taught me about Daniel and the lions den. These men and women taught me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and “The Old Rugged Cross” and being in their presence again spoke to me at a soul level. I sat there just overwhelmed with gratitude that these sweet people — “salt of the earth” men and women, we call them — have been a part of my spiritual walk. I guess communion is always a little sweeter at home.
So today, I’m giving thanks for this church family, my family. The soul of this church has nourished my soul in ways that are far too numerous to record.