It happens most when my brother and sister-in-law are in town, sitting in the same row as a big family, singing three-part-harmony.
Or on the Saturday I stood beside a dear friend, hearing our voices blend together over the chorus of a room full of women.
They are old familiar feelings of routine that cause my breath to catch and stray tears of nostalgia to fall. Being in community. Learning together. Praying together. Singing together. Nothing reminds me more of being home with my church family than those quiet stolen moments.
I remember that first day we drove into the parking lot. It was a Sunday night and I was eight. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the building and a change of any kind, I told my mom we’d visit her friend, but under no circumstance would we start attending there.
I’m so glad no one listened to me.
Fifteen years made that church mine. Self discovery, and God discovery, and friendships that keep me grounded still. I was married in that church, dedicated my first baby in that church, and all the other wonderful moments you can imagine between.
Things have changed, of course, as things do with the passing of time. People have moved, and moved on, but we’re all still a family. One that’s bound together by the memories we made, sharing parents, and grandparents, and brothers and sisters between us. That’s why when we all get together for someone’s wedding, or a baby shower, or funeral, it feels more like a family reunion, and maybe even just a little bit like heaven.
This is the reason Shauna Niequist can write that the church she grew up in is like her sister. All the dysfunction, the joy, the memories of personal victory and defeat, woven together in the fabric of a family.
Because that’s what a church is.
Alive. Vibrant. Beautiful.
Real people loving and learning and growing like one incredibly crazy, amazing family.