My mother was raised in a small town church.
My parents were married in a small town church.
I was baptized in a small town church. I was confirmed in a small town church, and most of the teenagers I was confirmed with, and their parents, are my friends to this day. I attended Sunday School classes and taught Sunday School classes in a small town church. My daughter was baptized in such a small church. And I was baptized for the second time, as an adult, by the pastor of a small town church in Colorado that held its services in a high school theater. I eulogized my father in a small town church in Maryland just one year ago.
Small town churches are the best places on Earth.
The buildings are often older structures, and the rooms and the pews and the sanctuaries tend to have the dusty smell of history about them. As a little kid, you get to know the individual smells of the rooms of the church you grew up in, as well as the creaks in the wood of the steps leading down to the kitchen or up to the choir loft. You know what the sun looks like passing through a stained glass window at a certain time during the service. You know every inch of that church like you know your grandmother’s house.
It’s Christmas lights and happy voices. It’s singing and cookies and coffee and laughter. Bible studies and potluck dinners. Kids and babies and old people. Tears and joy, weddings and funerals. It’s a part of you. It is you. It’s your story. And the people in that rickety old building are your moms and dads and brothers and sisters. And they are that forever. I can tell you that at the most difficult times of my life, the people who were always there for my family and me were small town church folk.
Now, I know some of you have a problem with the whole “thoughts and prayers” thing. You have made that abundantly clear on social media.
In this, I would suggest that you remember what the victims of this unspeakable crime were doing at the moment they were attacked:
They were thinking about each other. And they were praying.
God bless them all, and their families, friends, and community.