May there be peace with the brothers and sisters as well as love with the faith that comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ forever.Ephesians 6:23-24
This week Rebekah and I almost didn’t make it on time to Sunday morning worship. “You will arrive at your destination in thirty-five minutes,” Siri told me as I put the car in reverse to head up our long driveway, losing a minute in the process. It was already 9:23.
But we zoom-zoomed our way across 98, zipped around one of Durham’s perimeter roads, hit all the lights just right, pulled into the parking lot at 9:56, and took our seats in the sanctuary at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church in good time for the preacher to greet us enthusiastically (Yes, the pastors at this church work the room before worship, helping set the tone for an inclusive, warm, welcoming environment).
“I looked over and there you were,” senior pastor Katie Crowe said. “It’s like a celebrity sighting!“
“You even recognized us with masks on?” Rebekah asked Tommy Grimm (Trinity Avenue’s associate pastor) after the service. “It’s your energy,” he said. “I still can’t believe someone with your energy is retired!”
We settled into our traditional wooden pews in the historic 1920’s building, immediately feeling present and included and worshipful in a very genuine, contemporary, up-to-date, spirit-directed way.
Trinity Avenue is still – like all congregations – in the throes of pandemic mandated adjustments and restrictions; but while attendance was still a little thin, the enthusiasm, the worship, the sense of meaningful connection – both to God and to one-another – was rich and abundant.
Katie Crowe is an excellent preacher, and Tommy Grimm presents a gentle, positive approach that is deeply authentic.
Honestly, no undercover church critic!
I have been trying to understand what specific factors were at play – and I have to conclude that:
- The feel of the building touched a nerve of nostalgia from memories of my childhood church in Folkestone, England;
- The welcome struck a nerve of yearning for our home at WFPC;
- The authentic enthusiasm of the pastor struck a nerve of truth – exactly what Rebekah has offered all these years;
- The bread and the wine – our first communion service since August 1 at WFPC – struck a nerve of peace;
- The congregation struck a nerve of hope – because they are obviously participants, not spectators….
And more, of course; but I think this much helps.
I am not (as my friend Bruce jokingly suggested) offering an “Undercover Church Critic” service. But I will say this much: If we lived any closer to Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church, I would seriously consider going back, and thinking about making it my church home.
So thanks to Katie, Tommy, and all the good people at worship Sunday morning.
I needed that – DEREK