I sang many nursery rhymes growing up. My mother and father enrolled me in preschool at the age of 3. I loved preschool, but I wasn’t quite sure why I went because my mother was a stay at home mom. I later learned that my father brought in a little more money and they wanted to spend more time with each other, so off I went! Now that I am grown, and a parent, I completely understand, but allow me for a brief moment to give a serious side eye to my parents for whatever shenanigans they had going on! I don’t think it involved nursery rhymes! LOL!
One of my favorite nursery rhymes was, “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.” It was cool because in addition to the lyrics, there were hand movements to accompany the song. Perhaps more importantly, it provided a visual for what was a significant component of my childhood, and that was going to church. No matter what I did during the week, attending Sunday School and service on Sunday morning was a requirement in Altoria’s house. When we arrived to church, there was warmth, embraces, laughter, shouting and all the expressions of faith that you can imagine. We learned about God, and we learned about sinners. We learned that in fact all of us were sinners saved by grace. That included those of us at church, and guess what? Although our sanctuaries are much more grande because some church folk actually raised enough money in their building fund (insert giggles), and ministries are diverse and multifaceted, and technology has allowed messages to reach far beyond borders than ever imaginable, we are still sinners saved by grace!
I listened to a woman on a panel this past week sharing her reasoning as to why she and her family do not attend church. She said that the church is filled with people who are hypocrites and instead, she elects to worship God and pray with her family at home. I certainly respect her choice, and I would like to add another layer of consideration. I love my work and I enjoy what I do. However, there is no way that I can justify that everything that occurs on the campus by which I am employed is holy, 24/7, including me. Yet, that does not stop me from going to work. I am grateful for the job the Lord has blessed me with. It allows me to be creative, it allows me to be an educator, it allows me to impact young, brilliant minds and it allows me to pay my bills, keep a roof over my head and support my children. If I chose to only insert myself into places I deemed (in my limited knowledge) holy, I’d be waiting on my ride to heaven until the Lord says so. If I can work in environments that are challenging, with challenging people, I can certainly regularly attend service in the house of the Lord. We are reminded in Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake the assembly of ourselves together. This scripture is not conditional.
Within the steeple, are broken people. Within the steeple are bruised people. Within the steeple are depressed people. Within the steeple are prideful people. Within the steeple are doubtful people. Within the steeple are addicted people. Within the steeple are (fill in the blank) people. But there we are, within the steeple, being encouraged to go on, press on, believe God and do our best to recognize that we are loved in our mess and that we are loved more than our faults by our Creator. We must look at each other as we desire for God to look at us, through the eyes of Jesus.
When I am experiencing life’s tribulations, I find comfort with my church family; and I hope that I am able to do the same for someone else. I appreciate a loving embrace, a shoulder to lean on, a song of encouragement, a dance of deliverance and of course, a Word from the throne room divinely crafted to my situation. Is everything always perfect? No, but who is except the Father? But every since I was a child and learned that nursery rhyme, the people within the steeple have played a critical part of my faith. And as long as the doors of the church are open, and the Lord allows, I will be there. There is no other place I’d rather be.