I was tempted to do “Bedside Baptist” this morning or maybe “Naturch” outdoors. It would be my first time going to church alone, and it seemed like too much too soon. I thought about all my sermon CDs, and it was tempting to have church in my ‘jammies with coffee in hand. That sounded better than venturing out on a sub-freezing morning to an awkward situation at a relatively new church where I knew no one.
Standing with my mug in the living room trying to make up my mind, I noticed a red wooden cut-out that said, “Merry Christmas” in loopy cursive letters. The girls had opened several boxes of decorations last weekend, but nothing had come out of the boxes during the week. I wasn’t sure which decorations would fit at the cottage where we’ve never decorated before, but one thing I knew for sure: this Christmas wouldn’t be “merry”. I picked up the sign and carried it to the basement, burying it in another box.
At that point I decided church might be a good idea. Besides, I needed a positive answer if any of the kids asked, “How was church this morning?” What’s more, it’s the Christmas season, an important time to focus on Christ’s miraculous coming as our Savior.
As I was getting ready, I tried to remember the last time I’d been to church alone. The answer was, never. This would be a first. Suddenly, a great idea came to mind: take Jack. Dogs aren’t allowed in church, but he could be a car-pal and ride both directions with me.
I was a few minutes late to the service, and every aisle seat was taken. So I walked to the “gathering room” at the back of the sanctuary to listen to the service over speakers and watch everything through a plate glass window. One other lady was there, too, and we worshiped together from the comfort and safety of plush red couches.
Part of the service was communion. After an expository sermon about the birth of Jesus, it was fitting we share communion and a discussion about his death. After all, his death for all of our sins was the main reason he was born in the first place. Birth and death.
At our house we’ve been focused on birth and death, too, the birth of three new babies in the near future and the death of their grandfather. Of course our birth and death experiences are nothing like those of Jesus for quite a few reasons, paramount of which is that in his case, death couldn’t hold him. Against all odds, he came back to life three days later.
There is a link, though, between Nate and Jesus and their deaths. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Nate was able to walk into heaven a month ago, a privilege unavailable to him without Christ’s atoning work. Jesus had forgiven Nate of all sin and covered him with his own perfection, which then made heaven possible.
These were the thoughts bouncing around in my head during today’s church service, amazing connections I would have missed, had I opted to stay home. In the car on the way back, I told Jack all about it.
“Who dares accuse us, whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:33-34, 31b)