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Church is where God is at

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It’s Friday morning, and it’s quiet. The sun in the eastern sky, shining through the overhead arched window, is my only light as I sit in wonder and awe.
How did I get here? Who is God that he should choose me and call me, change me, turn my life upside down and inside out, that I would rise early just to come and sit in his quiet? To dare believe that he will meet me here—me, the one who loves him so little?
As I sit here, my emotions flit, from captivated awe to head-scratching wonder and then to a deep sadness because of the many who don’t think of God’s house as a good place to be. I’m sad because I am powerless to change their minds and hearts.
Kate Young Caley grew up loving a little church in Moultonboro, N.H. But when she was only 5, her father became ill and her mother took a job as a waitress where she was required to serve wine and beer, which violated the church’s covenant. Instead of helping them, their congregation voted to kick the family out of the church. As a result, they were shunned in the community.
The family never went to another church after that, but Caley says she never stopped loving Jesus. She writes about meeting Bob, the transmission man, who tells her about his friend’s sister who had “gone religious.” As Bob’s friend, hooked on drugs and booze, lost and in trouble, slowly died, the sister didn’t even offer to help; she just kept reading her Bible.
“What kind of religion is that?” he asks Caley.
She tells Bob her story, but adds that church isn’t Jesus and that God’s people aren’t who God is. Most of the time Christians are poor reflections of who God is, she says, but that doesn’t make him any less majestic and wonderful.
That’s when Bob “gets it.” He says, “God is like my transmission shop! It’s me and what I know about cars. But maybe you bring your car to me and some idiot guy who works for me (doesn’t fix it right) and then you never come back again because you think that’s what Bob’s Transmission is all about. But it wasn’t me, it was just some dumb (jerk) who didn’t know what he was doing.”
As I sit in the quiet, I try to imagine what it must be like to be hurt enough by a church to stay away. Or to imagine church as dull and restrictive, a chore, a duty and a drudgery, as some think.
But I can’t. Not sitting here, with the sun streaming through the window, warming my feet and my face and my soul. Not sitting here, where God stills my heart until all that’s left for me to do is remove my shoes.
This is holy ground. God’s here, and even if no one else ever joins me, in a sad sort of way, like the long-ago Bible writer, I’ll still always be glad.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.