“I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1)
Quite a few years ago on a Sunday morning, my dear wife was loading up our young kids for weekly worship when one of the men re-roofing our hail-damaged home gave her a good-natured ribbing: “I suppose you have to go to church every week?” To which she replied: “Yeah, and I kind of like it.”
I kind of like it. This response still brings a smile to my face.
Due to a variety of reasons, there have been weekends over the past two years where I have preached at six services or more. Fortunately, such a schedule doesn’t lack opportunities for humility from both my family and my own frailty: “Dad, no offense, but I’m not sure your sermons are good enough to preach six times.” And, too often, my own prayer before the final service of the weekend: “Lord, get me through it.”
And while six services might be a bit much, today I give thanks for the timely reminder: I kind of like it, too.
I like how the same hymn gets repeated and ingrained into my memory. Or a phrase of the hymn. Or a note the musician misses, (or, more likely), I miss.
I like how someone far more poetical than I turns a phrase in a prayer, a phrase that says so much: “Lord, who’s glory it is always to show mercy.”
I like how the Psalmist’s cries become my own. And the Lord’s ears are still attentive, always attentive.
I like how the word “Father” in the creed brings so much comfort; how the saints on earth and the heavenly host join their voices in one song of praise, whether ten have gathered or two hundred; how the bene-diction (the good word) is for me as it has been for all of God’s children for three thousand plus years.
I like how God’s people come and go, each in their own way, some with smiles and a few with scowls; encouraging me and others by their presence in so many ways, they cannot possibly begin to know.
And while so much remains the same week after week, the past years have taught me how much changes. And I kind of like it.
As I write this, it’s one of those strange weeks where family responsibilities and a little weekend vacation have taken me away from my parish; away from the sights, sounds, and the familiar smells and away from the people I am privileged to serve. And while I will miss that which is familiar, and the people I love, I am also thankful for the opportunity to see it all from a different angle, and to be reminded about what I can so easily take for granted: that our Father is good and gracious in this other place(s), as well.
God has designed us for such a time as this. A time for refreshing, for renewal, for the sights, sounds, and smells of that which is familiar and strikingly new again. He has designed us for rest in a word from a feeble preacher’s voice and in wimpy wafer and wine, a Jesus who was, is, and shall be for you, and not against you.
The past few years have taught me again how blessed I am to know the Father’s voice, the Son’s sacrifice, and the gathering of the community around the forgiveness of sins, completely won and freely given.
And–I kind of like it.