The church was small, but well appointed. It felt comfortable, as a place. As a gathering of persons, well, folks were friendly, though some were reserved. There were a couple of boys, ages 9-10 perhaps, who acted as acolytes. They were the only children on this day. Still, there were young adults. The church had an intergenerational feel.
The pastor was technically on vacation, but he got back early, so he was in attendance and led some prayers. The associate pastor -- actually a part-time hospice chaplain -- preached. She was nervous, since I had been her clergy mentor, and she had never preached to me before. I was going to stay incognito, but she outed me before the congregation. Well, that's okay.
On the one hand, everything here was very amateur. The pianist's sense of time was less certain than the one we heard last week at the suburban church. There was a bit of repetition in what was said. It wasn't polished, and it wasn't clever. But it was real. That counts for a lot.
And the Name of Jesus was lifted up. I was reminded, nicely, that I was a sinner in need of grace. Thank you for that. And even better, I was reminded that Jesus had died -- and risen! -- so I wouldn't stay that way.
Various persons in the congregation had bits of praise at sharing time, in addition to prayer requests. Some referenced Scripture: one fellow mentioned that the sermon text of the day was related to what they were studying in the church's mid-week Bible study, which had been echoed at an Emmaus formation he took part in this week. During the sermon, there were some amens. These people take their Bibles seriously, and they take their relationship with Jesus seriously.
I felt quite at home. Country folk take a while to really get to know, but once they accept you, you belong. I could imagine being part of this kind of church. Once they got used to me, my clergy status might not get in the way much. I'm a little more leery of it getting in the way of the pastor and associate. But then, I don't think they'd be too buffaloed by it, and since I'm not looking to horn in on anybody's ministry, it might be okay. Anyway, I think this church remains on the Possibles list.
Next week, we're going to yet another church in the area. Not ready to settle in anywhere yet.