As I was attempting to perform my elder of the week, (how is that for a lengthy title), duties this past Sunday and was at the church much longer than a normal day of worship…I could not help but notice the sweet people that kept greeting me and not only engaging me in conversation but for whom I felt a feeling of family!
In today’s world it is very comforting to worship and fellowship with a group of people that not only make you welcome, but who are concerned about you and who are always glad to see you.
Bob gave me the high five and called me the world traveler!
Mary greeted me with a wonderful smile…twice!
Wendi thanked me for my service…not once or twice…but three times!
Lisa told me how she enjoyed my Facebook posts and I, again, thought what a lovely person to take the time to give me an encouraging word!
Dorothy B. asked me how I was feeling and I said pretty good…but not like I did when I was 20!
Have you ever noticed how genuine human interaction and friendly people make you feel better? Over the course of a stressful week…sometimes you can feel a bit isolated and that you are siting on the bank of the, ‘slough of despond’…. only to discover that your friends are often experiencing similar challenges?
Over 20 years ago my family was looking for a church. Now… I was in my early 40’s and had been a member of my first church for 17 years and then a member of two other churches over the next 12 years. Two wonderful colleagues, Carol and Lee, who worked with Mary Jane invited us to First Presbyterian church in Carbondale, Illinois. Mary Jane, told me later, that she was fearful that I would not enjoy the visit…but on the contrary…I thought the church absolutely mesmerizing and wonderful!
The same Sunday that we attended First Pres a wonderful couple, Evelyn and Harold, drove to Elkville, Illinois, where we lived at that time, and brought us homemade cookies! The drive was significant…for people that they had just met! I can assure you that their demonstration of love and welcome for our family…meant the world to us!
I had been a member just a short time when Carol asked me if I would be willing to serve as a trustee. I had been involved in all manner of church work for many years, which included; elder and trustee and sexton and preacher of funerals…among other needed and sundry positions. I did not feel that I had time to be on the board but I was deeply honored that my new church family expressed a great confidence in me. However, I could not say no to such sweet people!
Over this year Mary Jane had back surgery and the lovely members of our church brought us a plethora of savory meals to aid and help us. I can not describe how I felt when I saw the love that our little church had for us!
Ro texted us during the surgery for updates on MJ’s progress…and in a very nervous and difficult time of worry and distress…her concern brought us great comfort.
First Pres in Carbondale has a dinner group where we attend a different restaurant each month. It is always a fulfilling experience to sit and chat and break bread with other members of the congregation and get to know each other’s fun and diverse and energetic life!
Pastor Kerry has written a play…yes you read correctly…our pastor writes plays…that will be performed next month in our fellowship hall! The play is entitled , Murder by Malbec.’
It is a unique experience to be a part of a faith group that it is accepting of all and does not force demands or expectation on anyone…but rather emphasizes acceptance and welcome and faith and hope.