Thirty years ago, I was part of something you only have to do once. We had a practice run for starting a church. We ran the nursery, kids’ classes and worship services–but, we only invited ourselves. Much like a wedding rehearsal–we were looking for all the elements we hadn’t thought about and were making sure everyone was ready for the big event the following Sunday. That following weekend around 200 people came to be a part of this new church we had named Hope. We were all eager, young (Randy and I were barely 30, while our son, Brian was two and Michael turned five on that practice run Sunday), and had no idea the great work God had in store for this community. Week after week, Randy and I both served in several roles, as did everyone else. Those were fun days and fun memories. A lasting memory/lesson for our family was on one of the first weeks. Craig invited our 5-year-old, Michael, to bring something in a box that represented the church and Craig was going to guess what it was during the children’s sermon. Michael brought a box full of toy people.
And for all these many years that is what they church has been for us. People. People on a similar journey, joining in for various reasons, at various times. People who we would celebrate with and who we would mourn with. People who would celebrate with us and mourn for us. People who would help us grow in our faith and challenge us to step out. People who together would push though the hardest seasons and then see how God had led us that entire way. Not perfect people, but our people. God’s people. And our lives are richer for all those we have journeyed with. I have spent many an hour helping build buildings here on Walnut Grove, map out details for no telling how many events….but my greatest Hope is found in faces….for I remember that at one time I was “lost but now am found.”