Today is Sunday. I go to a small country church where I play the piano – badly. It just so happens that nobody who is a member there can play any better or at least they haven’t admitted it if they can. I am limited on my song selections and I can only play out of the hymn book. Sometimes I think I can only play because the Lord takes pity on the church people and helps my fingers land on the right keys – most of the time. When I first started playing the piano for the church several years ago, I would get so nervous that my fingers shook. At least that gave me an excuse for hitting the wrong keys. But now I just plunk along and don’t get too uptight when I mess up. That’s because I know the people in my church are going to forgive me. They might wish I practiced a little more or that a better piano player would move his or her membership to our church, but they love me anyway in spite of my failings.
That’s the best thing about having a church family. Knowing that you are in fellowship with other Christians who will forgive you and who will love you and who will pray for you. They’ll rejoice with you when good things happen and cry with you when bad things come along. My church is very small. If you’ve read my Hollyhill books, you know sort of what Goshen is like because I based my Mt. Pleasant Church in the book on Goshen the way it was back in the sixties. Except of course, only the devout and good members were based on people in my church. And that’s really true.
On most Sundays, we average maybe 40 or 45 now. When I first started going there, we averaged 60 or 70 and there were a lot of families and children. Those kids grew up and moved on to other neighborhoods, other churches. Now we are an aging congregation and we only have a few young families. So we treasure each baby or young child who comes our way. We don’t have the youth activities that the big churches have. We don’t have a youth minister. Our Sunday School is struggling due to lack of enough committed teachers and few young Sunday school students. But my children grew up in that small church and while they didn’t have as many activities as the youth in some other churches in the area, they did learn a lot about the Bible. At the same time I think youth activities are great and I wish our church could do that. I wish the big churches would open their doors to youth from little churches and I’m sure many of them do.
But the really good thing I like about my small church is that everybody is the same as family. This morning when I came out of Sunday School, our oldest member who is about 88 was holding our youngest member who is about two months old. He’s a cutie. Well, she is too even at 88 because she always comes to church with a smile on her face even though walking is getting increasingly difficult for her.
Today it was hard for most of us to keep smiling. One of our deacons has been sick for a few weeks. Last Friday he got a diagnosis of advanced abdominal cancer. The doctors give him a short time to live. He’s struggling with how to accept and handle that kind of news and so are we. He’s our brother in Christ. And it made me wonder whether it’s better to know or not to know. If you know you can get your affairs in order, but it’s hard to count down the days. Especially when one is so sick. Pete’s a committed Christian believer, but he also has much he loves here. So we’re praying for him.
On a lighter note, I went back to help out with the twins a couple of days last week. They are doing very well. Eating and sleeping and pooping which is what babies do. Along with just a little crying, but not much. I’m still planning to post a picture of them on my website in the next few weeks – if I can get the photos together and sent to Susie who takes care of my website for me. She lives in the Keys and says they got a lot of wind and rain from the tropical storm, but was grateful it didn’t turn into a hurricane.
Also I took advantage of a quiet day alone Friday (Darrell’s group, the Patriot Qt went to Missouri to sing this weekend) to read over the first draft of my new Shaker book. And I think it’s going to be an okay story. It read well and the characters seemed to have life. That was a big relief. Now I’ll have to work it over chapter by chapter and line by line to see if I can make it read better and weed out spots where I was too wordy or said the same thing too often.
Hope you all have a wonderful week. And keep Pete in your prayers.