Dedicated to the Lexington Church of Christ

To the Church, Christ’s Bride,

Do you remember when you told my Father to conceal the affair? “Just keep it under wraps.  People would gossip.”  And years before that, when the short, fundamentalist preacher called my family out in his sermon because we didn’t use the King James Bible?  Later, as a teenager, during long stretches of Sunday morning worship, I began to sense that something was wrong.  On the rides home, I realized what it was.  We just pretended Christianity one hour a week.  Sometimes I used to say, “The Bride’s a wretch.”

But now I see you in a whole new light.  You are the fragrance of hot manicotti smothered in marinara pulled from the oven.  You are long family talks with ice tea refills late into the night.  You are a retired couple sitting in their bubbling hot tub, tracing constellations in the night sky.  You are the exuberant six-year old jumping up and down on his favorite chair.  You are his sister’s sweet question, “Do you need money?  ’Cause I have a dollar I can give you.”

What is the weather like in Africa?  What do they eat?  Where will you live?

You are a nine-year old red head painting a bulletin board beside me who isn’t afraid to mix colors.  You are our friend in a hardware store who took off of work early to help us find a six-inch pulley for the water-well you will built on church property.  You are a handful of silly bands given by three siblings, “What is your favorite animal?”  You are leaving four kids in bed, filling your coffee cups at four-thirty in the morning, to drive twelve hours to Arkansas.

I remember when I taught you in Sunday school.  You slid under the table and said, “You can’t get me!”  I went under there to grab you, and I ripped my panty hose.

You are flank steak and twice baked shrimp potatoes.  You are chicken salad, curry, Chinese food, falafel, and Greek salad with plenty of feta.  Always, you get the bill.  Faster than we can reach for it, you say, “One check please.  It’s on me.”  I always feel bashful and overwhelmed that you fed us again.  But thankful, oh so thankful with my belly full we walk out to the parking lot, put our arms around each other, and pray.  You bless us again.

I know we’re supposed to wait a year to see you guys in Africa, but I don’t think I can wait that long.

You are a three-hour staff meeting, sipping coffee and praying.  We walked in like outsiders, but you took our input and made synergy with it.  Yes, you are missional.  You are the people who stayed.  Though there were good reasons to leave, you put unity ahead of doctrine and stayed.  What that meant for an escapee from Bible class charging down church halls who grew up to be linebacker and charge football fields, you won’t know.  You collected 46,000 dollars in one Sunday for a cause you hardly know.  You did it because you know us.

I always knew that you were my mother, but now I see that you are me.