church friends

 

 

 

The impact of the 50 years of The Congregational Church of Huntington became real for me on Saturday night at the Northport Yacht Club. As we gathered for our celebration dinner I was near the entrance to the club, informally greeting people as they arrived. Jim Uhl, Willie Steele and friend were playing the blues, the sun was shining over the water into the windows of the club, and friends were gathering in happy groups. As I visited with folks I kept looking up to see coming through the door former members of the church who had moved away—Helen Hatcher with son Chris, Gus and Nancy DuPeza, Grace Johnson, Dottie and George Stone, Tom and Trey North, Bill and Janet Nickerson, and Wes and Diane Clark. It was a true homecoming.

 

I knew I would be glad to see everyone at the dinner and worship service the following morning. I was not prepared for the intensity of my feelings. I was almost crying upon greeting old friends and choking back tears the entire worship service. It was a poignant reminder of the important of the people I know in church.

 

Church people sometimes talk of each other as brothers and sisters in faith. This can sound overly sentimental to those who have not experienced the possibilities for relationships in a congregation. Consistent presence in worship combined with working together in service can lead to the formation of some deep emotional bonds. These are sometimes underestimated because the people we see in church often aren’t friends in the traditional sense. We don’t talk on the phone regularly, we don’t go out for birthdays or anniversaries, and we don’t even do much of anything together outside of church. Some of them I wouldn’t even choose to be friends with if we didn’t have the faith in common (yes, it is true). Often I do not fully acknowledge the importance of these bonds until someone move, or returns. There is a significant type of love that develops through sharing worship, service and faith.

 

Some people tell me that they come to church and never feel this connection. I know there are many different types of people and not everyone may feel this love. Let me be so bold as to suggest that this may because they have not fully opened themselves to the existence of the bonds between their brothers and sisters in the church. Test yourself—do you find yourself feeling sad when people move away? Do you smile when you see people come into church who haven’t been here for awhile? If so, you have the bonds—you only need to nurture them by opening your heart to the dear ones who are seated next to you in worship.

       

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