Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why Do I Go to Church?

Anne Lamott. one of my secret girlfriends, says that she goes to church "because somebody gives her dimes." An old black lady, probably on food stamps, sidled up to her--a single mother--and slipped a tiny plastic bag tied with a twisty and filled with dimes more than once.

Why do I go to church? After all these years--seeing the good, the bad and some real mean ugly--I still go. Carlyle Marney used to say that the church had dirty under drawers which was his way of saying what Paul once said, "We have the treasure in earthen vessels."And they both knew that from time to time the Church of Jesus Christ was a long way from what the Lord Jesus intended. And knowing this I still go.

I used to get paid to go. I was the Preacher but, looking back, I think I would have stood behind that pulpit with an open black Bible even if they had not paid me a dime--or a bag of dimes.

Why do I go? Because growing up in a home with a lot of stormy weather--on Sunday--I found some peace and the music wasn't half bad and people smiled and some patted me on the head.

Why do l I go? Because a woman, covered with scars from a fire when she was a baby--reading only with the page almost touching her nose--sent me money--more than dimes--from her knitting mill job to a college she could never go.

Why do I go? Because once in a while back there struggling to find my way--somebody or several some bodies would hug me or whisper how good I was (I wasn't) or just light up when I came into the room.

Why do I go? Because I've seen old gnarled hands from spinning frames--use those same hands to hang on to a rope called faith. Narrow, sometimes rigid--not always correct--but faith.  It kept them going.

Why do I go? Because I have been overwhelmed by the graceful acts of so many. Grace-filled. They gave their nickles and yes, their dimes to people over there whom their Preacher said did not know or were hungry or needed shoes.

Why do I go? Because I've seen alcoholics find their way back and some church--as ordinary as dirt--take them in and welcome them back. I go because they took food baskets into little houses that you had to hold your breath to enter. I go because they build a house and then another another and yet another for a family who would never, in all their lives, be able to do that on their own. I go because when they lost their 22 year old or their aging parent or some mate of 45 years--somebody brought a casserole or hugged them hard or  called on the telephone six months later.

Why do I go? Because that cross and that Sunday dinner of bread and wine and that stained glass and that organ music and sometimes even a choir or a sermon will lift me up and carry me through and force me to pray--even now after all these years.

Why do I go? Because I've seen hope slowly emerge from the dirty concrete of somebody's life and watch it stubbornly grow and grow and grow. The fertilizer of Sunday School or prayers or genuine care sprinkled out again and again enabled them to live and flourish and sometimes bloom.

Why do I go? Because I've seen more than one church take
somebody in with AIDS or make somebody a Deacon who had once been in jail or throw a wedding of all weddings for a couple of special people who would always remember that happy day when their church cheered and cried and laughed and loved them until they felt whole--even for a short time.

God knows I've seen the dark side of church. Not only in them--but also in me. I could footnote a thousand reasons for not ever going through that door and sitting on those pews again.  And yet next Sunday, unless I'm sick,  I'll put on my clothes and head down to that comfortable place I have known most of my life.

--Roger Lovette /

1 comment:

  1. Another solid hit, Roger. I can echo so much of what you say.