My spiritual life is very important to me. I have noticed to talk about God creates more kerfuffles with my friends than if you were to talk about drinking to a black out does.
I have lived in Austin for 9 years and have not found a church home. I get motivated and start spending my Sundays checking out churches and while I use the time to meditate in prayer and let God’s grace wash over me, I have yet to find a church home that I felt would be a permanent place for me. It’s been very disheartening. I’ve been to some wonderful churches with some wonderful people that greeted me and made me feel welcome, but I haven’t had that moment in a church here that I felt…”this is it.”
I have felt that before. The first time I heard the Reverend Mark Craig at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, I was moved by the Spirit. His messages each week felt as if the Lord was speaking through him directly to me about an issue that was weighing me down. When I joined the church I said to Rev. Craig, “I knew this was the church for me when you spoke of God’s grace and how I felt it move me to join.” He replied, “That wasn’t me…the was God.” I cried.
I’ve recently been having church in my home. I open the Bible and read a scripture lesson and play my favorite hymns and sing out until I feel moved by the Lord. I’m sure my neighbors are tired of hearing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” but it’s best heard at top volume!
Since my father died, I have been struggling with the loss. I’ve realized it isn’t just the loss of my father, but also the loss of “community” I have felt. I used to have a strong sense of community in Austin. I had a friend I considered a brother. A true and valued sacred friend. That friendship ended and he turned out not to be the true and sacred friend I believed, I started to drift. Then I lost my father and shortly thereafter ended my long-term relationship. Suddenly, I found myself alone and longing for that sense of family and community foundation I believed had been so firm. As it crumbled beneath me I turned to the one thing that always brings me comfort…my Faith in God. Praise Him! As my grandmother would often say, “Give it to God. There is no burden he cannot bear.” It is an instant antidote.
As I struggle with this lost sense of community, I am searching for that home. That warm embrace of a church home and church family that reminds me there is more to life than self…there is a walk with God that is a shared experience.
I plan to visit Dallas and the Rev. Mark Craig as I continue on this great spiritual journey of Lent. I am looking forward to Easter with a joy I have not in many years. I will be with my family and we will spend the day in church and I will be surrounded by the community and love that I have been missing.
I have been saddened to see that Austin is not a very religious city. The churches here have many empty pews, the messages are dry and rarely do I feel inspired and moved. The music in the churches here is the worst! The hymns are mostly dirges the congregation slugs through with the enthusiasm of a root canal. I remember growing up in a church that when it came time to praise the Lord through song we did so with a spirit that made those great stained glass windows shake. I grew up with my eyes on my grandmother in the choir loft singing along with her to those hymns that made me vibrate with the joy of Christ.
Maybe it’s a Southern thing. The South is called the Bible Belt for a reason. Maybe I need to be back in the bosom of the South and feel the “everlasting arms” of Christ’s love there. Maybe I should go to seminary and be ordained and start my own church. Maybe my calling is to bring the love, grace, peace and serenity offered in religion to others. Plus, I would have that place hopping with some old time religion, for sure. There would absolutely be dinner on the ground and what I feel is the real work of Christian love…to give people peace…not to put the fear in them or the bigotry…or the unwavering commitment to the Republican Party. HA!