Ronnie Milsap has a song, Lost in the Fifties Tonight. As I write this I am listening to it on Youtube. Today I took a journey back in time. I went to church with my daughter-in-law and grandchildren. They attend a small Baptist church. More than once during the service, I was taken to places from my past. I thought about my grandmother's Methodist church in Paul, ID. It was a small building with thirty or so worshipers. I traveled back to Nezperce, ID and first church I served. Today we sang the Doxology at the end of the service, in Nezperce it was as the deacons carried the offering back to the communion table after its collection. I made my way to downstate Illinois, to Oakmound Christian Church. I preached there while in Seminary, another small building with just a few hardy souls, this time in the country, a dozen miles from town. In all these places 'simple' would be the word. Understand, I am not saying anything bad about any of these places, churches from my past or today's congregation. As I sat and listened to a very good sermon, one that was providentially appropriate for the events of the week, I thought about the thousands of congregations spread throughout our country, and around the world that are so like that one. I once heard that some of the best sermons preached each week are delivered to less than 100 people. This service is not where I am at, spiritually right now, I enjoy guitars, drums, praise songs and PowerPoint. Yet, today I was blessed.
While our spiritual journey is always forward, moving toward to upward calling, it is appropriate from time to time for us to look back to the anchor points in our lives and our faith. I cannot say I learned a lot from grandma's church, except faithful dedication and service to our God. I was quite young and didn't attend very often. As I think of my time in Nezperce, I learned more from them than I taught them. They were kind and understanding as I tried out my theology and got my preaching and public praying wings. And Oakmound was another place the gave me more than I gave them. What is worse, I am not sure I ever told any of those places how important they are to my understanding of church, Jesus Christ, God, community, family, benevolence, caring for others, and the church property. So for one day, on July 28th, 2013 I was back in the fifties, literally. Dresses, hymnbooks, simple yellow bulletins, wooden pews, with a little padding, and a powerful moment of prayer. I was reminded of my past, and I was reminded of the things that ground my faith. So thank you Christ Baptist Church in Hubbard, OR for a moment to remember, and a sermon to challenge.