I have never known Jesus apart from his church- not the building- his people. My earliest memories are of a lively and warm fellowship of people gathering. The children were fed hot-dogs and finger jell-o and sent to the basement while the adults crowded together in the living room for Bible Study. From the sounds upstairs we understood studying the Bible to be something to do with singing and deep laughter.What they came together for was to acknowledge, just by coming, their losses and failures and sorrows, their need for comfort, their faith always needing to be greater, their wish (in spite of all words and acts to the contrary) to love one another and to forgive and be forgiven, their need for one another's help and company and divine gifts, their hope (and experience) of love surpassing death, their gratitude.”-Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow
Maybe it is in the way that our earliest impressions are formed that I carry within me this great and stubborn affection, this idealistic hope, for church. I still think of it as something nourishing and safe, the way I perceived it as a child, though I have spent time in churches now long enough to experience it many times as just the opposite.
Church- community- is where I first knew conflict that was not resolved. It is the first place I watched people be rejected. It is the place at times most hurtful, where I have felt at times the most insecure or inadequate. I have often asked myself why bother.
Church- community- is also the place where I have found the greatest meaning. Where I have met the wisest and kindest and humblest people. Where I have been confronted with my own sin and called to fuller life. Where I have loved and been loved. It is one of my first recollections of joy.
I don't know that I could follow Christ apart from his Church- a community of believers, two or three or five hundred.
It still remains in my heart as it's ideal- not a church building but a house; warm and doors held open, every window flooded with light and the sounds music and of deep laughter- what it is meant to be, what it one day will be- the way I have experienced it most in glimpses.
Recollections #11 of 36