Today I walked into church not knowing which Sunday School I should go to. I found myself in the Young Singles class, where I was attacked from behind by my mentor and like-a-sister Pami. Although many faces I didn’t recognize, and some did but I couldn’t remember names, still there was a welcoming and homecoming that enveloped me into the fold. The lesson, fittingly enough, was about the purpose of the church: to glorify God, in part by being a community, a body, fellowship.
This Sunday we had two services (once a month we have a contemporary service in the other chapel), so I went to the contemporary one. I stepped into a room full of people I remembered. I knew I was home when I could exclaim “John!” to the booming enthusiastic response of “Chera!”, a hug, and a “So what’s this about Scotland?” and “What’s this I hear about Peru?” When I turned around and little Anne-Marie isn’t so little anymore. When, even in a “proper” setting, a traditional chapel with everyone in their Sunday best, it was perfectly okay to clap and dance and be joyful. When I would trade grins with Julie, who was in the band, like we would do in youth group. When afterward as we chatted, she said in response to my grad school plans, “You’re crazy Chera Louise, but you’ve always been crazy!”
I knew I was finally home when after dinner I tapped my pastor’s shoulder, politely interrupting his conversation, and he did a double-take when he saw me. “Mercy!” he exclaimed and gave me a great big bear hug. When he lifted his eyes to heaven in thanks that my arthritis has gone to remission, when he laughed with pure joy that I’m going to Scotland. He hugged me again and said, “Always remember where your church is.”