I got married in the church I grew up in. It is a family church with people of various ages and backgrounds. Some people have sad stories and some people have happy stories and there are many stories of changed lives. My dad has been very involved in the leadership for some time at the church. My mum has been very involved in the music. I grew up valuing the children’s and youth work and it set me on a trajectory of hope and purpose.
This weekend ‘my old church’ celebrates its 200th anniversary. None of the members can claim to have been present for even half that time (although you wonder, occasionally). Today we had a shared meal and a barn dance. Tomorrow there will be special church services. There has been a flower festival and there will be an article in the local paper.
Here’s the thing. The guest of honour mentioned that the church has been operating for about 10% of the life of the Church. That made me think. I have been connected with it for roughly 10% of the time it has been going. A lot has happened in that time, and that is only about 1% of the time of the history of the Church. The older you get, the more recent history becomes.
I wrestle with churcheology and with religiosity and with knowing God personally as my Lord and Saviour. I have a nostalgia for things of ‘my old church’ for good reason, but would be loathe to see it become a mutual appreciation society which loses the plot. I would hate to see a place and a family I love so much become something alien to God’s purpose and love for the world. The fantastic thing is that it is not. A slice of the history of the church belongs there and underneath all the present stories are lives changed and still being changed by truth and God’s love.
The best testimony you can have for faith is broken people being mended. I see many lives touched by ‘my old church’ which are mended over days, months, sometimes many years. I am broken. I am being mended daily. It is all part of the continuing story.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But if it is?