Honey would have loved last Sunday!
Our entire married life, actually our whole lives, both of us spent Sunday all-mornings at church -- although she got out of the habit her one year at Baylor. Then, she married a minister of music, and the routine returned in earnest. Even after I retired from church staff music ministry, we continued the practice of spending Sunday mornings at church. And I still do; I just like it and it feels like home.
Sunday morning church began as usual, at nearby Brentwood UMC 8:15 a.m. service. My pew mates -- Anne to my left, Kent to my right -- and I were displaced one row forward. A children's choir began the service and early arriving parents/grandparents apparently mistook "our seats" for theirs. But, that was okay, and we even "passed the peace" to them at the appropriate time. Nice folks they. Honey would always sit beside Anne; they enjoyed one another, sometimes a little too much and to the point that, on occasion, I had to call them down. Following a wonderful sermon, we had Communion, and then I scooted out to make a dash downtown to practice with Gordon who was singing an arrangement I scripted last summer.
'Twas a big day at FBC. The congregation approved a new ministry plan and also voted to sell a parking lot, half of which we had sold a few months ago using the proceeds of both to build a new education building that fronts and opens up to the now bustling Broadway. There is so much new development in our downtown neighborhood, we needed to improve our house also. FBC hasn't built a new building since the sanctuary in the late 60's for the church's Sesquicentennial Celebration (1970). Hopefully, the new building will be completed in time for the church's Bicentennial Celebration in 2020.
As our pastor Frank delivered his powerful and personal sermon on congregational unity, I sat there celebrating that our church is a place of grace. Not all churches are; ours is and in large measure because our pastor is a person of grace and has been a model of grace for now nineteen years. Honey would have loved the service and being down there with our forty-year "heart friends" as she would say.
I pulled in at Rafferty's for Sunday lunch and happened onto my thirty-year friend Lloyd who blurted out:
"Are you here by yourself?"
Looking around in all directions, I responded, "it sort of looks that way."
"Why don't you join Sue and me?"
"Well, if it's okay with her, sure!"
"Yeah, she's nice and will be glad to have you."
I did, and it was a delight. He even used some of their "milk and egg money" to buy my lunch. Lloyd and Sue have been friends ever since they came to Nashville to become President and First Lady of the Baptist Sunday School Board in the mid-80s. Lloyd was a person whose counsel I sought several times when I was in full-time ministry. Those two are the real deal.
Driving away in the fall beauty of the day, Honey came to mind. Being with "heart friends," hearing Gordon sing while I accompanied, meaningful worship, and then lunch with long-time friends, I could almost hear her say, as she often did -- "we are so blessed!" Sunday, we found out that a friend is going to have a baby. And they fact that this baby is out of wedlock would only draw Honey toward this sweet expectant mom even more, for one reason, because Honey was also born out of wedlock. There's little doubt that Honey would have traded her usual Sunday afternoon nap for a trip to the fabric store to begin making a baby quilt for that special one.
Yep, Honey would have loved Sunday.
Here are some good stanzas we sang downtown during worship -- sung to the tune, EIN' FESTE BURG (A Mighty Fortress is Our God). You know the tune; come on and sing it with me:
In unity we lift our song
of grateful adoration,
for brothers brave and sisters strong,
what cause for celebration.
For those whose faithfulness
has kept us through distress,
who've share with us our plight
who've held us in the night,
the blessed congregation.
For stories told and told again
to every generation,
to give us strength in time of pain,
to give us consolation.
Our spirits to revive
to keep our dreams alive,
when we are far from home
and evil seasons come;
how firm is our foundation.
For God our way, our bread, our rest,
of all these gifts the Giver.
Our strength, our guide, our nurturing breast
whose hand will yet deliver.
Who keeps us till the day
when night shall pass away,
when hate and fear are gone
and all our work is done,
and we shall sing forever.
In Unity We Lift Our Song –
words Ken Medema, 1985
I love the images our friend Ken uses in this lyric. He sees many things far better than we.