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We were standing on the perimeter of the sanctuary.

Just passing through, we had stopped in Gulfport, Mississippi to visit our Pastor-friend on our way to Pensacola Beach.

Our friend was in a meeting and we were told to show ourselves around while we waited for him.

We teetered on the edge, feeling shy to enter into this stillness. As we peered in, sunlight sifted through stained glass, flooding that sacred place with a kaleidoscope of color.

I stepped in.

He followed.

“Why do all Presbyterian churches look the same?”

I heard the humor in his voice, and something else—disdain?

I breathed in and smelled a familiar smell.

It smelled like home.

I wondered—is this the smell of hundreds of hearts and shoulders rubbing up against one another? The smell of many bodies becoming One?

I sat down in the front pew and raised face to glowing cross, sunshine falling through glass.

I didn’t see what he saw.

“I love church.”

I said it with my eyes closed—feeling Him there–loving the light and glass, polished wood and shining brass.

“I don’t,” he said, smiling that smile.

“I love bars and coffee houses.”

And he does.

He is just as uncomfortable in church as he was on the day he was baptized, three years ago.

These walls do not fold him closer to God, as they do me.

They hem him in. Trap him.

But as I look up at him through filtered sunbeams, dust particles illuminated as they suspend in air…I see that he is beginning to understand why.

Why I love church.

Later, as we walk along the seashore…my hand in his…wind lashing hair about faces…I am overcome by the beauty of the moment.

I close my eyes and breathe in a familiar smell. I feel Him there, too—large and powerful like the waves; soft and tender like my husband’s hand.

“This is so…”

I struggle for words.

And then it is my turn to touch on the beginning of understanding.

“This is church.”

He smiles down at me, squeezes my hand.

Wherever we are, He meets us there, Beloved.

Large and powerful, soft and tender.

Such are the ways of our God.

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  1. says

    I have loved catching up on your posts – I have missed you! I enjoyed seeing your photos, and marvelled at how you expressed your feelings about New Orleans. You are such a joy and a pleasure to ‘listen’ to, for it is like you are sitting across at the table from me, coffee in hand… how sweet would that be…

  2. says

    Yup, church is “being” the church…not a place. But there is something wonderful about some of the church buildings that can draw me to His feet. But recognizing what church is…well it wonderfully breaks us out of a box…God is everywhere…His love desires to go everywhere…am I willing? hmmmm

  3. says

    This is so very familiar, the uncomfortable part of church and yet my husband understands the importance it has for me.

    So glad HE meets us wherever we are!!!

  4. says

    Beautiful and inspiring! We just talked about the presence of the Lord at Bible study this morning. I am so thankful it is not confined to a church building, though I so relate to your experience. I love to walk into the Holy hush of a sanctuary. Love it! Especially when no one else is there.

    I used to do that when I was a little girl. I would go into the sanctuary of my hometown church, find myself a place behind one of the podiums, and sing How Great Thou Art at the top of my little girl voice. And He would come to meet with me there!
    I will never forget that time!

    Thank you for sharing.

    You capture moments so well with your words!
    Happy Celebration!

    ps. Did you read Coming Together on Ashli’s page? It was the one I was talking about. I like her new one too.

  5. says

    This was beautiful.
    “Wherever we are, He meets us there, Beloved.

    Large and powerful, soft and tender.”

    Those words right there spoke to my heart. They were exactly what I needed to hear today… especially after this week, and the chapter in our book study.

    Thank you!
    Love you,

  6. says


    Cool, really the first word that came to mind 😉

    also beautiful, powerful.

    I love to listen to you too.

    Much love,

  7. says

    you successfully took me to that place – i was with you both, and Him, and them – in community together — church — the Body of Christ — Beloved

  8. says

    what a beautiful post!

    I felt as if I was captured in a mystery :O)

    ~~~yes, yes, yes we, God’s children, the Lord’s Bride make HIs church :O) where two or there are gathered there He is in the midst of them~~~~

    hugs, Deanna

  9. says

    Hey friend, I’ve missed you. Glad to see you back.
    Thank you sweet friend for your comments at my blog.

    I loved reading this and the picture is stunning. It sounds like you not only had some revelations with Papa God, but some defining moments with your dear love….

    I’m glad you’re back!

    Hugs from Georgia,

  10. says

    Hi Laura, I came here to catch up, and wanted to comment here first. I so agree with how you experience God in church and his creation. Yes, he is with us always.

    Well said!

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