Days of Thankfulness: Manchester
This Sunday we watched a woman join our church and it gave me flashbacks to a nearly two years ago when I was standing in her place, facing my soon-to-be father-in-law and taking my own vows. I kept the bulletin from that service and put the memory in my box of happiness. It meant so much to me to finally belong to a church. Today I am thankful for Manchester Reformed Presbyterian Church and our Manchester family.
I grew up in an evangelical church that was too big for it’s building. It expanded and just kept expanding and in a church like that it’s so easy to get lost, and to forget that you need to nourish your congregation as well as expand the kingdom. There were good people in that church, people who guided me in my early walk with the Lord and who encouraged me in living a godly life. I am thankful for them as well, but I am more thankful that God led me away from there and kept me going even as I floated without a church for a while.
In a church that seats 700 people in a service, that has five different services over two days, it is impossible to feel like you belong in the congregation. You can meet someone you’ve never seen before who has been going to your church for five years, when you’ve grown up there. It’s crazy. I moved to a smaller church, a Christian Missionary Alliance church, during college and while they were better: better teaching, better community, better worship, I still floated, unconnected.
And then I met a boy. I feel like a lot of the good things that have happened in my life happened because I met this guy. He was RP and interested in theology and my personal beliefs and what I thought about things like predestination and baptism. On our first date we talked about our church backgrounds and what we believed. We had lots of long conversations about convictions in the circle outside McKee. And suddenly I began to think about what I believed, what were my convictions? Where did they come from? Were they my own, or had I just picked up what I was told without thinking about it for myself? And then I started coming to RP services and I struggled with singing the Psalms for the first time. I slowly learned the tunes and how to keep up with the words and taken them in instead of just spitting out the sounds. I came to love the psalms, and the singing without music, with only the sound of voices joined in praise. It’s a beautiful thing.
I came to Manchester for the first time fall of my junior year, and people talked to me. It was a friendly place where people wanted to know how I was and what my interests were, and where I was from. I felt like they really wanted to know me, not just because it was the polite thing to do, maybe just because I was there with Logan, but also because they are genuinely kind people who were excited to see a new person in church. They began to recognize my mom’s car, which I would drive down to spend a weekend with the Scavos some times. Then we got engaged and I started coming more often. And then I started membership classes. They lasted maybe two months as I had lunch every Friday with my father-in-law and talked about the lesson for the week and what I believed and how scripture supported it. I knew most of it, and believed it to be true, but I finally had that proof that what I believed was right, that it was scriptural and I understood the importance of it. On March 16th, 2014 I became a member at Manchester RP church.
I am so thankful for the church family that we have at Manchester. I am thankful for the people who have welcomed me into the congregation and loved me just as I am. I am thankful to have people around us who support us and pray for us weekly. I am thankful for fellowship meals and time to enjoy communion with our fellow believers, for the teaching of my father-in-law and the spiritual nourishment that I am finally getting. I am thankful that we have good teachers in the congregation who can fill in when needed. I am thankful for the psalms and singing them every week. I am thankful that every feeling is covered by a psalm, from joy to lament, from anger at injustice to praise and blessings. There is a psalm for every occasion. I am thankful for the RP church and for the place that I have found within it. Today I am thankful for Manchester. What are you thankful for?