Monday, August 17, 2015

Things I Love About My Church


I'm a member of Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Our presence at Downtown is a love at first sight sort of thing. When we decided to look for a church, Downtown ended up being the only one we visited. It's not a perfect church. She's not perfect for us, and we're not perfect for her. But she's a great church, and we love her people.

And we're moving soon.

We take the Lord's Supper every Sunday. There are two common cups and several common loaves set up at the front of the sanctuary near the end of the service. The people come up to the Supper pew by pew, and I watch them as they file up, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. In my youth a pastor encouraged me to look at my brothers and sisters when I took communion, so that I could see the body of Christ. And that is our family's practice to this day.

Watching these people, some of whom I never really talk to, makes me realize how much I'll miss them.

The other day Patrick (the one with the red-headed wife) embraced me in the lobby after worship. And he did a thing he's always done, which I love. When I asked him about it later he claimed to have been doing it subconsciously, which maybe makes it even better. It comes from a place of true love.

Recall that I am a giant. Patrick is a normal-sized man. When Patrick and I embrace, he side-hugs me and rubs my great belly in a few gentle circles.

It's very beautiful, and it makes me love him more. As he rubbed my belly a week ago, I thought, "That's true love, and I'm going to miss that. In fact, I'm going to miss a bunch of things. And I'm going to write a post about it."

So here they are. Some things that I know I'll miss when we're gone. These are all personal, that is, having to do with particular people. They're just little quirks or mannerisms or peculiarities that my brothers and sisters have employed when loving on me, so I list them now, tenderly, as a lover far from the object of his affections might fondly recall how she tucked her hair behind her ears.

Like I said, I love that Patrick rubs my belly.

I love that Brad calls me. Like, on the telephone. For no reason. Well, just to see how I'm doing. Greater love hath no man?

I love that, after an embrace or handshake, Jake briefly massages my bicep. Keeps me limber. And I love that when he wears cowboy boots he's almost as tall as I am.

I love that even though Jason is a Michigan fan, we were able to bond over U.S. soccer.

I love that Ryan talks to each of my kids individually. I love that he wants to.

I love that young Alexander decided to take me up on my $5 challenge to come up with a tall person joke I'd never heard and succeeded. I also love that he and my son George both love to rock bow ties.

I love that somehow Tim's hair never falls into his eyes when he's up front.

I love that Barry, who has an awesome mustache, waited cheerfully through many Sundays for me to stop talking about how we both have awesome mustaches. Now we have normal conversations until someone else mentions that we both have awesome mustaches.

I love that Carrie and I cried in front of a Sunday School class of five-year-olds. I love that she gives me neck hugs.

I love that I can see Laura's forearm muscles ripple when she plays the cello.

I love that Patrick (the tall Patrick who sits up front) points at me every Sunday like I'm walking into my own nightclub. You know, like I own the place. Makes me want to walk with swagger.

I love that when I see the smallest dude at my church, it's Andy. My rugby teammate Andy. I've seen him lower his little-man shoulders and go crashing into three burly head-hunting dudes for the pure joy of it. I feel like he has a secret identity that only I know.

I love that when Chris and I go in for the holy kiss, our beards blend. And that one time I smooched his wife Annie on top of the head because I went in for the kiss but she hadn't gotten the memo.

I love this church. We love this church. And we're going to miss it.

Patrick, if you're reading this, I didn't see you today, but I expect a belly rub next Sunday.

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