Sunday, July 19, 2009

members of one body

Today Chris and I officially joined the church we've been attending since January! Having never had formal membership at a church, I'm pretty excited to feel as confident as I do in commiting to this church we've grown to love.

Since I graduated from TCU and left Fort Worth, I've had a hard time feeling settled and making new friends. As much as I sometimes dread change, I have come to realize the importance of finding a new church family to join. After a couple years of attending a church in which we never really became involved, we started to get restless and to crave the support system of a church family. I wanted to make myself more available for God to work through me and knew that the first step to doing this was to get involved in a church. Thus we prayed and began the search.

Lo and behold, when we visited the third church, we found our church home. We loved it from the first visit and were so impressed with how welcoming the people were.We loved the discussion-style of teaching in our Sunday school class. One of the associate pastors immediately took an interest in getting to know us and chatted with us over drinks at Starbucks about how we could get involved. We loved the new pastor and his passion for loving and teaching God's Word.

As I reflect on this process, I am amazed at how quickly and eagerly (I like to think) God answered our prayers and directed our steps. I know that His answers do not always come in the timing or way that we anticipate and He always has a purpose in the way that He answers, but it is so cool to see Him intervene quickly, clearly, and directly in response to our petitions.

I have begun to feel at home there so quickly that I had to make myself pause and reflect before realizing the magnitude of this blessing, which is so deserving of thanksgiving and celebration. I loved that today, the day that we stood before the congretation and joined the church, the young woman we talked to about our decision was someone I knew from VBS. I loved that the deacon who stood with us as they announced our membership was the teacher from our Sunday school class and that couples from our class came and hugged us afterward. I loved that our Sunday school teacher and his wife took us out to lunch and that the pastor came and talked with us before and after the service. He told us, in light of our decision to join the church, that he was honored to be our pastor and to let him know if he could do anything for us.

The image that keeps coming to mind is that of a blanket of protection being spread over us. Each new relationship and connection to the church feels like a layer of protection as we try to live as lights in the darkness in spite of our imperfections and through the grace of Jesus Christ. These layers come in the form of love, accountability, encouragement, hope, Bible study, corporate worship, partners in prayer, wisdom from elders, and friends to celebrate with us in seasons of joy and to support us in seasons of hardship.

It's such a joy to discover these purposes of the church as a young adult who often feels that childhood was not so long ago and is trying to figure out how to live independently but with support and wisdom from others. I am excited for my husband and I to join as members of one body, all seeking to follow Christ and to help each other in that endeavor. In view of these last few years and the process of finding a church, I am reminded of my human need for belonging and cannot express how good it feels to belong to Christ and to His beloved church.

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