Thursday, March 26, 2009
Sometimes our trips down Memory Lane begin before we even have a chance to catch the road sign. It happened this past Wednesday night as we gathered around here for worship in the Chapel of the church. The Chapel probably would seat 75 thin people. It reminds me of a lot of places from my past. Our worship is very informal with a time of singing and preaching from an Old Testament story. The message last night was from the story of Balaam's talking donkey. (Numbers 22:22 if you doubt!) We sang from "The Cokesbury Hymnal" which used to be the one songbook every Methodist church would have. Not every one knew the songs we sang. One was "Love Lifted Me." Others were "There is Glory in my Soul" and "I Know the Lord Laid His Hand on Me." But, what really took me down Memory Lane was what happened when I invited folks to share their testimony about the goodness of God. One after another stood and soon it seemed that I had stepped back in time to one of those old Testimony Meetings of days gone by.
In those moments I remembered the Pierce Chapel Methodist Church out in the woods east of Waycross. It probably would not even seat 75 thin folks! All the roads to it seemed dangerous to a child. One required driving through a black water branch which flowed across the road. Another meant a long clay hill which was slippery on cloudy days. And the third, was a sandy stretch with two deep ditches that had the power to pull cars off the road if drivers got caught in the sand. But, it was there that I heard my first testimonies. It was there I started learning Bible verses. It was there that I started learning the songs from "The Cokesbury Hymnal," songs which are now carried in the heart.
I am grateful for the images of Memory Lane. It brings to mind the days when faith in Christ started to take root in my life. And while I sometimes bemoan some of the things about the denomination which baptized and ordained me, I am so grateful for the way it has nurtured me, sustained me, and affirmed God's call on my life for ministry. I can only hope and pray that each of the children entrusted to us is finding a church where their own journeys of faith can begin.