The church is the people

It’s only my second week working in my new church in a new town.

I’m still trying to connect people’s names and faces to the 3-year-old photo directory that was left in my office.

But worship still feels like homecoming, like returning to my roots. I’m surprised at how familiar the liturgy is, the sung and spoken responses, the prayers and creeds. They slide easily off my tongue like familiar childhood bedtime stories, all deep and nostalgic.

I stay for the entire coffee hour, wanting to make sure I write down this person’s prayer requests, and meet that family’s new baby, and listen to stories from that person’s recent hiking adventure.

When there is no one left to help clean up, two mothers volunteer, and we stand in the kitchen together, trying to figure out where bowls and coffee cups go. As I stash the extra banana bread in the freezer (between the communion bread and the freeze pops) I ask how the system usually works for coffee hour volunteers.

“We’re almost perfect,” one woman tells me, and they both laugh. “Someone always steps up to help.”

This week, I guess, it is the three of us, even though I’m too new to know where anything belongs.

The other woman puts down her towel and turns to face me. “It’s like that song…” She sings,

I am the church. You are the church. We are the church together.
The church is not a building. The church is not a steeple.
The church is not a resting place.
The church is the people.

I smile, nodding, and fill a ziploc bag with extra kettlecorn to take home for later.

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