A pastor at one of the churches we've been visiting sent me a welcoming email saying "I hope you like our faith community." Now, in our search for a church following my husband's retirement, I kept saying to myself and telling friends, "I have to find a new church." Week after week after visiting six different churches and not feeling connected at any, I feel frustrated. I continue to tell myself, "I want to find a new church. I want to find a new church."
However, when I read the pastor's email that did not use the word "church," but "faith community," I realized that a faith community does not have to exist with the walls of a church. I remembered a song written years ago by Avery and Marsh, "I Am The Church," where a church is described as "the people" and "all who follow Jesus all around the world."
So the next day when I walked into the YMCA to swim, I saw the energetic young woman who teaches the Bible study I used to attend. She described an experience where her faith was tested and how God helped her through. I affirmed and encouraged her.
Then, after swimming I went to Target and saw a long ago friend, whose husband died last year, leaving with two teenagers to support. She explained how she was looking for a job but was unsuccessful. I told her I would pray for her and we exchanged email addresses to keep in closer touch.
A few days later, I was tutoring the teenager with whom I have worked since she was 8years old. I always ask when we conclude how I can pray for her, and she asks how she can pray for me. A fellow intercessor is always helpful.
As the week continued, I ran into people at the library, on a walk, again at Target, at a wedding, and various other places where I shared their joys and concerns, offering to pray. I gradually realized that I needed to change my perspective on "church," recognizing that I have a faith community wherever I go-- and interestingly, my frustration over finding a church ceased. I may be still searching for a church, but my faith community is all around.
God, thank you for opening my eyes to your where I can find those with whom I share a belief in you seemingly wherever I go. Amen.
Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana