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Monday, April 12, 2004 AD
I'm Glad It Rained on Resurrection Sunday
Much as I love spring -- daffodils, forsythia, the color yellow altogether -- it comes with a price -- allergies. Rainy days mean less airborne pollen, and a better chance that my sinuses will not be so afflicted as to hamper my singing ability. Yesterday was one of those happy days when my voice behaved exactly as I wanted it to. The rain rolled away the stone of allergy symptoms and let my heart's resurrected joy burst forth with vocal vivacity. I can't remember when I was last able to sing so clearly and strongly.

I attended an early service (7:30 a.m.) at New Covenant PCA in Abingdon, Md. I had also gone there for a Maundy Thursday service, when I experienced two disappointments: 1) Neither of the two families I knew there was attending that night, and 2) after communion, the final hymn was sung by the choir, rather than the congregation. But I found the folks there very warm and welcoming and had some nice conversations. I met the stated clerk of Chesapeake Presbytery, who is an RE there, and reminded him of the time we had corresponded via e-mail. I'd designed a flyer for a presbytery event, and Mr. O'Steen found fault with a long list of grammatical and punctuational items in the piece. Aside from a typo or two, which I happily repaired, I was able to defend every other choice on stylistic or aesthetic grounds. He was forced to concede the battle. Of course it was all much more friendly and respectful than the word "battle" might imply, and I had a lovely conversation with him and his wife on Thursday.

On Sunday I was a little less disappointed on the seeing my friends front. The sermon was given by New Covenant's director of youth and family ministries, and an old friend of mine, Don Dove. I had run into Don a couple years ago, but hadn't seen him for seven or eight years before that. His oldest daughter, whom I last saw as a baby, is now a lovely young lady of 10 years. The three sons that followed her were also in attendance. Before the service started, as Don was attending to other responsibilites, the children sat well-behaved in the front row of the sanctuary. The 5-year-old had the hymnal out and gave a quite cheerful and skillful rendition of "Up From the Grave He Arose." The 3-year-old joined him on bits of the chorus. There's something about little boys singing enthusiastically that delights me as daffodils and forsythia do. I first discovered this a week earlier while attending the Highlands Study Center conference where I was sitting behind the youngest Mr. Sproul, age 8, during the singing of a hymn or two, and noted to myself that I'd never heard a young male of the species sing with such zeal, and that I rather liked the sound of it. Alas, the youngest Mr. Dove was at home with his mama, who was not feeling well enough to attend.

Nor were my other old friends in attendance. It had been eight or nine years since I'd seen them, and reports indicate that they have not been idle in the meantime. They are expecting their dozenth child! When we attended the same church years ago (where I also met Don and Jenny), and Shawn and Renee had only half so many children, I was present once when a woman made a snide comment to Shawn about the quantity of his progeny. I nonchalantly replied that as long as they had enough love to give to their kids it didn't bother me in the least how many they had. I hardly thought anything about the exchange, but Renee told me later that my comment had really impressed Shawn. I still don't think it was such an impressive comment, but I guess they were so used to being persecuted for their quiverfull convictions that any response not entirely inimical would have made an impact.

I was not diappointed in the singing at this service. Not only was there no choir, there wasn't even a piano. I am by no means of the anti-instrumentalist stripe, but it was pleasant to hear for a change the bare voices of God's people exultantly exalting their risen King in half a dozen hymns led by Mr. O'Steen.

Next stop on my Paschal tour was Christ Reformed Evangelical Church, Annapolis, Md., where I've been attending since the beginning of March when I finally came to the difficult decision to leave Faith. CREC won't be a permanent home, but has been and will, I trust, continue to be a blessing until I relocate to St. Peter Presbyterian Church. Lord willing, that move will take place before the end of summer. I arrived early for the service at CREC and sat crocheting in the car for a few minutes before going into the building where, again, marvelous singing made up a generous portion of the service. And there was only one hymn duplication from the earlier service (I'm not going to count "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" to two different tunes as a duplication). I can't remember now what the text was, but the tune was "Ebenzer (Ton-y-Botel)," which, to my mind, isn't a very Eastery tune. The final hymn was "A Mighty Fortress," which, though it's not a specifically Eastery text, fit perfectly with the triumphant joyfulness of the day.

I had decided the day before to wean myself off note-taking, and just listen to the sermon. Thus was my envy provoked when the dad behind me doled out composition books to his four older children. I wanted to reach over and snatch an empty page or three! But I restrained myself and resorted to my other listening technique of repeating every word in my head. I was able to pay attention, but I'm not sure how much of the message I retained. I was disappointed to learn that I'd missed this family joining the church the previous Lord's Day. Their five children were scheduled for baptism, too, but when the day arrived, there were six children! Not willing to miss the day, Mama and 2-day-old baby were in attendance for the happy occasion. This trumped the first church appearance of 3-day-old Jeremiah Saenz (last entry on page) last October. Although I had only met the new mama a week before the family joined, I'm already inclined to have a high opinion of the family. The husband had been a part-time AOG pastor when his beliefs had shifted to a more Reformed perspective. I imagine it must have been quite a temptation to cling to job security rather than pursue truth. Honorable choices impress me.

Another CREC family I've chatted with on several occasions asked me if I had lunch plans. I almost wish I could have said No, just for the opportunity of spending time with someone from the church beyond the few minutes after the service, but I had already committed to lunch at my friend Joan's house with whatever other Faith folks she could collect. It ended up being eight singles -- Carneal and seven women. We teased him about having a harem and he scolded Joan for not inviting more men. It was a delicious meal, to which my contribution was a loaf of coconut curry bread. Lisa, who had done most of the cooking -- lamb, chicken, carrots, potatoes, asparagus, hot crossless buns (she didn't get around to the icing) -- had especially requested a reprisal of my bread and has told me that she's going to get a bread machine just to be able to make it herself! I can't blame her -- it's a marvelous recipe. Only trouble is it takes at least a whole package of coconut flakes. I mean, it only calls for 2/3 cup, but the bag always seems to be myteriously empty before I make the recipe again....

Socializing with Faith folks was hard. In some ways it would be easier to just withdraw quickly and completely rather than endure a months-long process of saying good-bye and explaining my decisions to leave Faith and to move to St. Peter. But that would be cowardly and unloving. I just wish I could avoid the pain of hearing things such as, "Don't you like us anymore?" from people who do not know how I have wrestled with these things for years. No one yesterday made such a comment, for which I am grateful, but it was still hard to listen to them describe the service at Faith and not be able to join in. I don't regret my decision to leave, though. I don't want to recount all the details here. Suffice it to say that I decided to leave after extensive discussion with my pastors and with their permission and blessing. They confirmed that I was not being divisive or rebellious, but had gone about the process about as well as could be done. I was exceedingly grateful for this confirmation, and for their graciousness in general. The last time I left a church, I did not leave well or wisely. I rejoice that I have grown in the interim. God has shown Himself gracious in this. He has also shown Himself gracious in the steadily increasing joy and peace I have known since these decisions were made.

I considered trying to find a Sunday evening service, too, but an extra-early start in the morning, and a full belly in the afternoon made for an irresistable bed in the evening.

Well, there you have my return to blogging. I'm going to forego the trumpetestuous fanfare previously promised since I don't know if I'll stick with it or find the need to back off again.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/12/2004 03:39:00 PM • Permalink

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