I have been on a diligent search for a new church. Oh, that rhymes. I think I may have found the one and let me tell you why...as I have been going to a variety of churches, every visit is like mourning the loss of my church all over again. I'll tell you there's nothing like visiting a church and crying through the service. Geez, will I be glad when this 'phase' is over! Anyway...my youngest daughter and I have been to a variety of churches and through the process have really discovered what we like and don't like in a church. (Don't know what you appreciate in your present church? Try changing...it'll become crystal clear!)
I have discovered I don't like rock and roll churches. I love rock and roll Christian music, just not in a church service. I like pastors that are reverent. The tone of voice is SO critical to me, as is the way they pray. I like a smaller church. I like stained glass windows. I like the organ. I like a choir. I like having a hymnal in my hand not words on a screen. I like a neighborhood church. I like grandma's in the nursery, not teens. I like teens participating in the service. I like to get communion from the pastor not handed down the aisle. I like bread, not wafers. I like grape juice, not wine. I like individual cups of grape juice, not dipped bread and the list goes on and on. What an eye opening experience this has been and through it all, I have realized how very much my former pastor has taught me and how many of his lessons have become life lessons for me.
OK, now onto the odd or God part. I Believe in signs. There are signs from God that you're in the right place, that you're following His will, that you're on the right path. Let me share with you the sign from today. After visiting several churches, I had a really good feeling about a local church here after pouring over their website. Through busy schedules we were finally able to visit there today. I was apprehensive because I had my precious great nieces with me and was really nervous about how they would react to a new church/new nursery/new staff. We visited the church and the girls went right in, said goodbye, started playing and were equally as happy as we picked them up. It was TOTALLY as if they didn't notice anything was different. Odd, or God?
Then, I'm in church and the Bible verse today was one that my pastor spoke of which was one of my favorite lesson which referenced Hebrews 13:8. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever. He spoke about driving by a church in Rockford that had that verse on the outside of their building and how that always provided him comfort.
Today, I'm sitting in this new church and this high schooler gets up and reads..."Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever." SERIOUSLY?!? Odd, or God? I vote God. Tears welled up in my eyes and I knew without a doubt I was in the right place.
Finally, as you know, I have had SUCH a hard time with the losses of my pastor, my dad, my aunt Ruth and my Gramma Bee over a relatively short period of time. Guess what? Next week, this church is starting a grief group...for those that are grieving. Odd? I don't think so. God? Most definitely. I've committed to 6 weeks at this church, which I am relieved to know will get me through the Easter Season with some sense of sameness (meaning I won't be at a different church every week) After 6 weeks...we'll see how I feel, and of course we'll vote as a family. I'm sensing this could be good...really good.
One other thing my pastor always hoped for our church was to be a church of neighborhood and of our community. Our new church (dare I call it that) is in the beginning stages of creating teams to go door to door in their neighborhood. They already provide a Friday Fun Fest that serves over 100 children from the neighborhood school. It seems to me that my pastor's vision may be alive and well in this church. Time will tell for sure, but I definitely feel like I have taken a step in the right direction.