Happily Corrected

Now I know Don is not a churchy person, but…. 

bird_churchsteeple300_izanoza I didn’t realize it at the time, but this remark was inaccurate. In an awkward attempt to encourage my cousin, who was moving into the end of a dark tunnel created by cancer, I had in mind how much he loves to hunt and fish and how regularly he does both. His wife didn’t say anything then, but that errant and thoughtless remark must have festered in her mind and heart. In an e-mail today, months after, she recounted a record of years of church activity by their entire family.

Now my cousin can verify that I am not one to jump up and down and click my heels when somebody corrects me. To admit error is humbling. In this case, however, I am delighted. I can proclaim loud and clear, “I rejoice! I rejoice with unspeakable joy!” Why? Because Church—in all its manifold expressions—means the world to me.

During the 1960’s people sometimes gave the word “churchy” a negative nuance, “tithing mind, dill and cumin” and “neglecting the weightier matters of the Law” (Matt 23:23). But that is not the way my life has taught me to think about the Church. The Church is my extended family. It’s the “one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.” It’s a community of fellow sufferers who are with me in moments of joy and moments of sorrow.

That last observation should let you know why I rejoice over this correction. As my dear cousin and I proceed step-by-step toward that vast unknown sea of love, we do not walk alone. And we know that, whatever the future brings, those closest to us will not walk alone either.

We are all surrounded by a great host of people who have cherished us in this “school of love.” They’ve been with us not only when we gathered with them but also when we discharged the purpose of the Church and its ministry—to increase among humankind the love of God and of neighbor.

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