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Today I’m happy to announce that it looks like many of you made the change of address to the new Blog apparently seamlessly.  I believe now you can make comments so have fun with that! marshagwoods.blogspot.com

I promised you that for the next little while I’m going to give you some excerpts from our upcoming book, Weaving Sunlight. This is not shameless advertising, and you don’t even need to buy a copy. Basically we wrote it to ourselves so that we could see what God has done in our lives these last 50 years! Tony has a favorite song that he’s planning to sing at our anniversary celebration, by Andrew Peterson called “Dancin in the Minefields”. There’s one part where he still can’t get through without choking up, I suppose because it’s just a little too close to home. The words go, “At the end of all my faith, to end of all my days, when I forget my name … remind me.”

Weaving Sunlight was written as a reminder of the times we’re apt to forget as we get older. And to do that, we have to back to where it all started: at church. That’s where we first met, Evergreen Baptist Church, in Colorado. There we got to know each other, became friends, fell in love, were called to ministry, and eventually got married.

In the years since that time, the church moved (and when I say “moved” I mean they jacked it up and drug it) to another site a few miles away. The Post Office bought the land where it had sat, and I still can’t go in there without feeling something a little more meaningful than buying a stamp.

But I know, as I’m sure you know as well, the Church, for us, is not that bit of dirt under the post office, nor is the building we drug off and renovated. No, it’s much more than that, and looking back over 50 years, it’s even more than we’ve come to imagine.

Our kids grew up in church, whether the building was in America, Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand or Australia. We used to tell them, “Unless you’re on fire, you’re going to church today.” They laugh about that today, but back when they were kids, they never were sure if we were serious or not. But they went to church, made friends at church, found Christ at church and each in their own way, got married in church. When we lived in Japan where earthquakes are common, we told our kids, “If you’re away from home and an earthquake stops everything, find a church, go there and wait. We’ll find you.”

It’s such an encouragement to see them carrying those values on to the next generation. Granted, going to a worship service in their churches is quite unlike what we grew up with, especially in terms of music. But we can still see the family atmosphere where they worship, and in their own way, they’re still making memories that one of these days they will choose to write about.

I suspect you have your own idea about what the Church today should and should not be like. It took an elderly deacon to remind a pastor friend of ours that “The church is not a coffee shop!” But in the pastor’s defense, I believe he still wants the church to be a place where family can gather, worship and grow in the Lord; and if a cup of coffee can help in that process, it can’t be all bad.

Phillip Yancey, renowned Christian author, is said to have come back to Jesus in a church in my childhood neighborhood in Evergreen.  I remember it well because my mother was incensed that they served coffee and donuts in the lobby before the services. She thought the whole lot of them should go where the coffee would be eternally boiling, and all I wanted was to go there and get a free donut.

Sadly, our church had no free coffee and donuts. It was more like Garrison Keillor’s imaginary church in Minnesota, “The Church of our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility”. But that was the era of the church I grew up in. And whether you’re looking at the Church back then or the Church today, I can still insist that, “Good things happen in church.”

Next time, I’ll share with you the mind-blowing thing that happened at Evergreen Church that would determine our destiny as man and wife.

Until then, see you at church!

Marsha

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