A Contemplative Visit To My Old Church

Remember that Abraham guy? Yes the spiritual daddy of us followers of Christ.
He was no good guy.
I am preaching at South Perth Sunday night, I think I will preach on him. Been doing Genesis for my readings in the mornings and listening to the legend Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill preach on Genesis.
Abraham basically pimped his wife off to Pharoah, who does this? Who hands off his wife to save his own butt?
Anyway, he comes to his senses, but only after Pharoah gets a disease…who knows where?? I mean there is a connotation in there or am I reading too much into it? Like he sleeps with her and wham, everyone seems to come out with the rash…well disease, OK so I am readinig too much.
Abraham is in Egypt.
God never told him to go there.
Where God told him to go was too hard, too hot…to hungry Abe was, they had a famine, so much for prosperity and the will of God, Abe was doing well at Belthel, planeted a church (Built and altar) had some worship…got hit by a famine, got hungry and took off, (in the words of the great Monty Python “e’s buggered off”!!)
He went DOWN to Egypt, pimped his wife off to Pharoah, took reciept of a bunch of good stuff from Pharoah, DVD player, posse, home brew kit, plasma screen, camel etc etc and never heard from God again…not in Egypt.
In fact the closest he gets to hearing from God is when the pagan Pharoah has a go at him – “What have you done you sicko? Who hands off his wife? Aren’t you the God follower? Twisted, that’s what you are, now get out of here!”

Abe finds himself heading back in the direction of Bethel…he’s going back to church, back to where it all began…his first home group, the song he sang when he gave his life to Jesus, back to the pastor who baptised him…a return…a sacrificial offering…maybe of thanksgiving, maybe of repentance. But he went back!

This got me thinking. I have been pretty hard on the little church I grew up in, sang those first songs in, gave my life to Jesus in, was baptised in…a bathtub with wheels!, sat with my parents and had my first communion, played years and years of basketball in the court out the back, kissed a girl at the 40 Hour famine sleep over (those things should be stopped)…
I owe a lot to that church, not criticism about this or that!
I owe God…an apology, repentance, thanksgiving…so I did it, I went to my Bethel, back to the altar and made a sacrifice…of tears…of thanksgiving.

On my way home from Bru Haas in Subi I called past the Wembley Downs Church of Christ.
I drove past, got up more courage, drove in.
I sat in my car.
Got out, wandered out to the basketball court, stood out there in the middle, no lines marked anymore, the rings and boards have long since been removed…the sound of laughter and sandshoes on the rough surface still echoed in my ears. – I smiled, I thanked God for old friends and old memories.

I looked in through the windows and felt dizzy as I felt life rush back 20 plus years, not a thing had changed, in fact the Tandy/Realistic speakers I helped fund raise for and put up on the walls were still hanging there. The Hymn board looked like it even had the same hymns from the day I left, the pictures on the wall remained. I smiled, I thanked God for meeting me here.

I moved around to the front of the building where we had many an ‘outdoor show’, a concert under the big trees, a Christmas carols night on the paving. I noticed a big limestone seat had been built, it had a plaque on the back. “To the glory of God and in honour and memory of James Browning (Jim) a gentle humble man etc”
What a man he was, gentle and humble is so true, his attributes one could not fit on a plaque big enough. He was one special man in my life, all of our lives, a man who showed us what faith in Christ was really about, a man who lived “Jesus” out for us kids to see.

I sat down on “Jim’s seat” and I smiled, I thanked God for Godly men and women in my life, for this church, for old friends – now I was crying, they were tears of repentance for harsh thoughts and words spoken about this place and it’s people at times gone by, they were tears of thanksgiving to God for my Mum and Dad who were here long before I was born, thanks for the many memories and solid foundation God built into my life at this place.
– I prayed out loud, smiled, and drove off.

Bethel, was good.


3 thoughts on “A Contemplative Visit To My Old Church

  1. A lot of people choose passages like that one about Abraham to show how ‘backward’ our faith is. They lose sight of the fact that just because Abraham’s actions are recorded in the scripture, doesn’t mean that God approved of them.

    So often as Christians we can try to hide our ‘grubby side’ yet God isn’t scared of showing the full picture. The bad stuff always displays such a glorious contrast to what God is offering us through Jesus.

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