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How to look for a church

17 Sep

Next to the beginning of the new calendar year, the beginning of September is the time we make the most changes in our lives. The kids start a new school year. All kinds of activities from kids’ soccer to adult classes get underway. If we’ve moved, we’ll be exploring a new neighborhood. If we’ve decided to start attending church or go to a different one, chances are good we’ll make that change in September too.

For those of us who have ever church shopped, we know how crucial those first visits to a church are. When we’re new, we notice things that long time attendees have surely become nose-blind to—from the cliquish clots of people in the foyer to the way the building actually smells.

What I was most sensitive to when I was visiting a new church with the thought of maybe making it our church home was, do these people seem friendly? Would we fit in? And, do I sense God in this place?

In September it’s probably a good idea for those of us who are church old-timers to be on the lookout for new people. Let’s notice them. Let’s greet them with warm smiles and welcome handshakes. Maybe we could even invite them for lunch, remembering how we would have appreciated that when we were new.

Elora Presbyterian Church

Elora Presbyterian Church – Elora Ontario (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

My poem is a bit of advice to those newbies:

HOW TO LOOK FOR A CHURCH

Pretend you’re visiting
a family of distant relatives.

Of course you don’t expect
to get an invitation for lunch
and all your social needs met
by a bunch of third cousins.
And it doesn’t matter
that the stairs smell of mildew
and water stains the ceiling
or that amongst themselves
they’re way too happy and loud
and hug a lot.

What may catch you by surprise
even make you want to return
is how the Father you share
meets you there
puts His gentle but persistent hand
under your chin
to raise your face
and meet His eyes.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to “Spiritual Journey Thursday” hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning where this week’s theme is “church.” Drop by and follow the links to what others have to say about “church.”

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11 responses to “How to look for a church

  1. bobbietaylor

    September 17, 2015 at 7:55 am

    We have an amazing Father, don’t we? How He uses one of His children to speak to another–even when the speaker is unaware of the usage–is humbling and mind-boggling. If you have a chance to read my Our Father post today, I think you’ll see why your last stanza left me gratefully teary-eyed. Our Father is amazing!!! Thank you for shining light on Him through your post today.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      September 18, 2015 at 7:47 am

      I read your post, Bobbie. Wow! God speaks even in the way our blog posts bounce off each other. Love it!

      Like

       
      • bobbietaylor

        September 18, 2015 at 8:53 am

        What others call “synchronicity” or something, we call Divine Providence, the Loving Hand of Our Father. I know He is God and God can do anything, but honestly, how does He orchestrate all these things? Gives heavenly meaning to “timing is everything.” You write. I write. I read what you write. He speaks through and to us, affirming and healing. No doubt about it. Our God is Great and Mighty to be praised. May He reward you greatly; thank you again for the words you wrote, words that portrayed Him as loving me.

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  2. margaretsmn

    September 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Woah! I love this poem. It’s so spot on for the way a new church may feel. But it’s all about meeting God there and feeling the spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      September 18, 2015 at 7:45 am

      Thanks Margaret. Yes indeed, it is all about meeting God and sensing the Spirit. One can overlook a lot when that sense is there.

      Like

       
  3. cvarsalona

    September 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Violet, your statement, “And, do I sense God in this place?”, rings true for me. When away we always find a church for worship. I like being inside a new place to see if I can sense the Lord’s presence. When my husband and I stayed in Cape May we found a gentle goodness in the Church there-an uplifting of spirits. The new priest was saying Mass for the first time and I thought how lucky the parishioners were. When there is a presence of the Spirit there is hush and a shouting at the same time either out loud or inside the heart. Your poem reminds me of the Sunday morning where the Father met my husband and me at a church we had never been to but will return to someday.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      September 18, 2015 at 7:43 am

      I love this Carol: “When there is the presence of the Spirit there is hush and shouting at the same time, either out loud or inside the heart.” Bang on!

      Liked by 2 people

       
  4. Holly Mueller

    September 18, 2015 at 4:13 am

    What an important subject to write about – on both sides of the church search process. Like Bobbie, you left me teary-eyed with the last stanza of your poem. So beautifully written. I could see this poem framed in the foyer of all our churches – a perfect reminder for both the church member and the visitor to keep their eyes on Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      September 18, 2015 at 7:45 am

      Aw thank you, Holly. Now that I’ve been part of our church for nigh on 15 years, I need to keep reminding myself of what it feels like to be new again. I hope I never forget.

      Like

       
  5. Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

    September 26, 2015 at 9:04 am

    A beautiful poem … loved the last lines about the Father lifting our chins to meet his eyes. Where He abides is home, even if it’s just visiting for a day. Lovely thoughts, Violet.

    Like

     
    • Violet Nesdoly

      September 26, 2015 at 9:07 am

      Aw, thanks Brenda! My thoughts are with you as you gather with other Inscribers in Edmonton this weekend. Wish I were there!

      Like

       

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