Lakeside Chapel

I wrote the following email to a pastor friend while we were living out in Montana. This is the church that we were a part of for six months and was a beautiful glimpse of the kingdom.

Rory and I have been attending a Lutheran church since we got here. But to be perfectly honest, we do not feel like we belong and often end up standing awkwardly in the fellowship hall eating mini muffins while looking at each other, asking what the other wants for lunch. Without kids, I am not sure how we would ever permeate this congregation.

So we started going to a little church right in Lakeside. We thought it was Baptist the day we pulled into the parking lot, but then the bulletin said United Methodist. When we walked in, there were three people who recognized we were new and talked to us until the start of the service. Church began after about 50 people gathered in this small space. The pastor welcomed guests and visitors and asked, "If you are a visitor and would be willing, we would love for you to introduce yourself and tell where you have come from." One woman said she goes to the UM church in Kalispell and just wanted to check this place out. Another woman stood and said her parents grew up in the area and she is back to see their childhood home. We stood and said we are living at the Lutheran camp for the year.

Shortly after the pastor invited everyone to take a moment to greet their neighbor. Now this pastor is new, and it soon became very clear that he has trained this congregation in what to do during this time. Each person was aware of who the new worshipers were since we had all just introduced ourselves, and for the next full 3-4 minutes (which is a LONG time) we had our own greeting line. We did not have to move, but members continued to come up to us and ask- so what work do you do? How can you be here for the year? Writing your thesis? What is your thesis on?...

Then a few moments later the pastor stood and asked for the prayers of the people. He asked for prayer concerns and prayer thanksgivings. One woman said her niece was to have a c-section on Wednesday and asked for prayers. One woman began "As many of you know I have cared for my mom for the last 8 years in my home. But this week I had to leave her at the Lutheran nursing home. (she began to weep) She is in room 39 if you can ever stop in and visit her." And 2 women left their seats to go and sit with her the rest of the service. Another woman held her husbands hand and said, "Clyde's sister rolled her car on Thursday and is in critical condition. We have known for too long that she wasn't safe to be driving." And Clyde sat stone face with tears rolling down his cheeks.

These three events happened within the first 15 minutes of worship. Honestly, the rest of the service was decent. The preaching was fine, the music was comical (sung to a recording that played the melody on one note synthesizer). And yet, I was choked up because I felt so deeply connected to these people already. And did I mention Rory and I were the only ones there under the age of 50?

We miss Lakeside Chapel a lot. It's funny how long it takes to find a church that feels like home. But that was just the thing with Lakeside only too 15 minutes because the community was already so strong and they were eagerly waiting for visitors to walk through the door.

1 comment:

annika said...

Ahhhh, it sounds like home. You will find another church to be your home again. I miss you, sis.