Last Sunday was my darling Mom's birthday, and as I wasn't able to spend it with her, I went and did her favorite thing for us kids to do ... go to Church. My friend, Chris, from Glencrest BBQ (who I've been trying to nail down for a story for years now ...) sings in the male choir at Friendship Baptist Church in Venice, and has invited me for ages to come and hear them sing. So I woke up, saw it was gloomy out, and decided to finally make the walk over to Friendship in time for the 11:00 am worship service.
The church is very nondescript from the outside, but once inside, it's a lovely red-carpeted sanctuary, full of true to their name friendly folks, all done up in their Sunday best. The preacher's wife had on a green sequined suit with a silver top hat that made me feel extra under-dressed in my regular, non-sequined skirt and flip flops. I was also the only blonde person in there, so I stood out a bit and was easy to spot as a visitor.
The singing got underway right from the beginning, and those guys are good. Chris is by far the youngest member of the male choir, so they sound a little like The Blind Boys of Alabama - a great thing. I was raised Norwegian Lutheran style, so it was fun to be in a congregation full of people that shout things out and sing their praises with no inhibitions whatsoever. Free!
At one point (in the almost two hour service!) when all the congregation got up to approach the altar, I had no idea what was going on. I was very touched when an elderly woman who had been sitting across the aisle walked over to me and held out her hand without a word. I took it, and we walked together to the front of the church and stood and held hands while a Sister in the church prayed for us all, for quite a while. AMEN! The woman, still holding hands, walked back to our pews, where I thanked her, and she said, "You are welcome". Meaning I was welcome there. Her small gesture of inclusion meant so much to me, I'm still heart-warmed by it. That kind of gesture is what makes the world better, and more peaceful, one person at a time.
Then I was pointed out by the Pastor as a visitor, and had to stand and address the congregation. I wasn't that well prepared for that, so pretty much just introduced myself and thanked everyone for having me, and sat back down. I WISH I'd said this: During the sermon by Reverend Glendon, he mentioned that a mere glass of water could make the difference between life and death for someone. Giving someone a glass of water (or anything) could impact their life in more ways than you know. That dear woman who took my hand gave me that glass of water that morning. She made me feel welcome, included, and one with humanity. I was missing my Mom, and this kind lady gave me love. I thank her now, a little belated, and hope she will know how much that meant to me.
Friendship Baptist Church is a perfect name for those lovely people. Stop in some Sunday, and fill up your own heart. You will be welcome.
Friendship Baptist Church