Being missed is a truly special sensation to experience! Last week, I was traveling out-of-state so I missed going to church. I go to the same service at the church of which I am a member every week here in my city unless I am ill or traveling. Otherwise, I am there, in my normal pew every week a few minutes before the service begins. I sit in front of a lovely couple, and behind a row of senior citizens who all live in the same adult community. All around me are familiar and friendly faces, also in their usual seats. It’s a community, our church. We know one another, even if not readily by name so far; we greet one another and keep track of one another. We smile, we hug, we wave, we check in, we weep, we comfort, we console, we encourage, we pray, and we take notice of absences and new attendees. So when entering church today, there were avid greetings and “glad to see you”s. It felt good to be missed last week, to have people who not only noticed my absence but also who welcomed me back!
A few years ago I was prompted to find a church home. I had wandered about looking for a place in which I could feel welcomed and where I could grow spiritually and deepen my relationship with the Lord. So I decided one Sunday to attend this church as a visitor but never looked elsewhere after that first time! From that first day, I was warmly greeted and people took a genuine interest in me. And so it has been ever since! Every week I am there provides me with what I would appraise as the best moments of my week! I walk through the doors and my spirit is elevated with joy! The Holy Spirit dwells in that building, in all the souls which frequent that church and in the ministry staff which leads us all. It’s an amazing place!
I cannot say if that is the same experience everyone who is a member or visitor has. It is mine, perhaps mine alone, although I sincerely doubt it! I am sure many others must have felt that amazing connection and bonds which develop within the walls of our sanctuary and on the premises. And those same connecting bonds are also found in other locations where members unite in ministry or just for fun. It’s not just the building, it’s something which lives there within the buildings! It’s a spirit, an in-dwelling, a community with a calling from the Lord. It’s God’s love pouring out in worship, prayer, song, gatherings of all sorts, and through relationships forged often over the entire lifespan of the church!
All my life I’ve either gone to churches of the same denomination or of other Christian denominations, looking for what I discovered on that fateful Sunday. In all those years prior, I never felt the same sense of what I’ve discovered at this church! I never knew that I had been missing the depth of experience which I’ve found there! I discovered Spirit-led people involved in something meaningful, with purpose and with love. There is love, there is compassion, there are relationships built on God’s love and committed to sharing it with others! When anyone is hurting, there are others who enfold them with love and take a share of the burden. When someone needs counsel, there are people trained to help advise and guide. When prayer is needed, there are hundreds of prayer warriors who lift those souls and prayers to the Lord. When the community needs support, there are plentiful hands to help, to give, to provide and to offer. The Spirit leads and by Christ’s example, it is done. This church is so special I decided to become a member within the first year, taking classes and making the commitment before the congregation later that year!
Finding such a great home on Sunday has also encouraged me to stretch beyond what I absorb only on Sundays! I attend Bible study and seek out other events whenever possible during the week. It’s a great place to connect, and those connections benefit not only church members but all those in the neighboring community and in distant locations partaking of our ministry outreach! And so this morning, I received such warmth and love, especially after having been gone just one week. It’s wonderful to be missed, to be meaningful in the lives of others and to meld into a large community which truly feels like an extended family! I encourage everyone who frequents church to seek a church home which is so welcoming and actually befits the embodiment of that word “home”! Home is a special place. It is where a heart finds solace, comfort, acceptance and companionship. Home is where love flows. My church home draws me each week because I look forward to worshipping the Lord and being with my loved ones! Each week, I am welcomed home!