Last week I had the pleasure of talking with a new family visiting Clarkston UMC. I spoke and listened for several minutes after a worship service. They needed to know what was available for their children. I answered their questions, smiling and after our conversation, I was left with a good feeling.
Why this Church?
Our family came to Clarkston UMC less than five years ago. Being a family with young children, we naturally fell in love with and became involved in many of the programs offered for families with young children. As others have done before me, I felt the need to volunteer to help with some of these programs and events. Eventually I volunteered for a few more. Then one day I realized I was more excited to take the girls to choir practice than they were to go there.
Each Wednesday, I would leave for home from Clarkston UMC after children’s choir feeling great. No matter what was causing stress, or how tired I was, I just felt better. The same thing happened after each day of vacation bible school, after church picnics and even after waking up at 5am to help put signs up for the trunk or treat trot. When I first realized this, I assumed it was because I was around positive influences. I though I was lucky to be part of something that was “good”. I continued to be a part of this “good community”.
I had unknowingly become integrated in a powerful and active community of faith. It was not just that each of these groups of people I was with were positive influences, it was that they were genuinely caring. They cared about me and my family. I was spiritually nourished by my weekly interactions with others, even if those interactions were outside of worship or bible study where we normally expect nourishment.
We talk with each other often about how we like this (knowing each of us might have a different this) program at Clarkston UMC. We talk about what we might make better. We talk about what we wish we had. But we do not lift up the community that comes out of these programs often enough and I think we are doing others a disservice by not acknowledging that. That little feeling I left the building with each week, that little feeling that made me anticipate going back, that feeling was not the residual memory of a well delivered sermon or assurance of knowledge gain in a bible study. That feeling was something much more powerful. That was the feeling of purpose, of belonging, of caring. That was the feeling of grace being poured into the lives of everyone, even if they have yet to realize it.
I am grateful.
After I had talked with the new visitors to the church last week, I was left with a good feeling. I may or may not see them next week. I can only pray that they will have left here feeling cared for. But I went home grateful to be part of community whose members have taken to heart the mission of “connecting people to people and people to God” so well that people feel cared for, sometimes even before they know they are cared for.