I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. – Psalm 122:1 (KJV)
Some verses of scripture still loop in my head the way I first heard them: spoken from the King James Version in the drawling tones of the minister and Sunday school teachers in my childhood church. On Sundays, my mother helped me buckle my black patent leather shoes, and we walked to the Baptist church a few blocks from our home. I remember the slap of the soles against brick sidewalks and a rising sense of excitement, because I was very glad to go, every time, to sit in the little chairs where I learned that Jesus loved me.
Many decades after I moved far away, I had the opportunity to visit that particular church. I wore black patent leather shoes that day, too, as a bit of armor. Would the church feel as welcoming to grown me, changed in so many ways, as it had to little girl me? An unusual snowstorm had left the sidewalks and parking lot a mess; I picked my way carefully to the door.
I preached that morning, but the good news I needed to hear came from my childhood minister, now in his eighties. He spoke before a prayer about Jesus and his disciples on the road to Caesarea Philippi, the vowels soft and elongated. I felt myself in the most familiar loop of my life, walking with Jesus, my shiny patent leathers next to his dusty sandals. Whatever else might happen, Jesus knew me and loved me.
Nervousness lifted, and I felt glad as ever to be in God’s house with God’s people.
Gracious God, bring us to the places where we can worship you together and be glad. Amen.