Life has made me much less sentimental. It could be that I'm married to a visionary who is, well, he isn't sentimental. It could be that I've learned to value people more than things. It could be that age has given me perspective. But still, occasionally, I think it's good to be a little sentimental.
Tomorrow is a big day in the life of our church. We are having our last service in our current sanctuary before moving into our new one. The current auditorium will be converted into a two-story educational space. That was always in the plan, and I'm thrilled with thoughts of the future!
But as I think about the current space, I can't help but spend a little bit of time reminiscing about memories I've had there, of how God met me time and time again. And maybe -- just maybe -- if I blog about it tonight, I will be able to hold back the tears tomorrow.
I've been at this church for over twenty years. We started in a warehouse, and I remember the night we moved into this space. We each grabbed our chairs during an evening service and walked them into the new sanctuary. How fun was that? Then we circled around and sang praise songs, giving God the glory.
Major life events have happened there. We were married there, Lee and Abby were baptized, we had a parent dedication, and we had my grandma's funeral service, among other funerals and weddings we attended.
God moved in my heart Sunday after Sunday.. I've cried so hard that I couldn't sing a word. I remember one song in particular was "Blessed Be Your Name." I stood in the front row weeping. There have been other times that we've sung that particular song and my hands were raised and I was full of joy. God has been in all of it - the ups and downs!
I've been so filled with praise I felt my heart would explode. At the end of one musical, the "airport one," I was onstage but in the dark. The choir was singing the finale and the dancers were praising. The lights went up brighter and I wanted to fly away. Praise God!
Conviction has struck like a knife. I've knelt at my chair and asked forgiveness many times. The Word has certainly been powerful and effective.
And other times, His healing has poured down on my soul and given me peace beyond understanding.
Some of my favorite sermons series's were when we went through Hebrews as a church. Trusting God in the wilderness. Pastor Nate's Stubby stories. Doug Paybody and his gentle way of saying, "Beloved." Joe Bartemus encouraging us with "But God" and "Lettuce Eat Meat." Jim Nossett's contagious enthusiasm. Then when Pastor Mark taught us about the Supremacy of Christ in Colossians. "Jesus Can!"
I have memories, of course, from moments not on Sundays too. Like when I first joined the worship planning team, we'd meet in the auditorium. I brought Abby, then a baby, with me. For almost two years she came with, playing in the midst of us as we planned the services. My, were the others patient with me! :)
Rehearsals for dramas, choir practice, late nights sitting and talking with friends, ladies teas, Couple's Banquets, children's productions, NANC meetings, VBS and Fine Arts Camp, youth group events... if those walls could speak.
They are just walls. I know that. And the church is not made of bricks and stones but of the people of God. And yet, I don't want to forget how good God has been to me over the years in that place. I don't want to forget His love, His lessons, and the life I experienced with Him there. He has been good, and I'm so very thankful for every moment of it.