Monday, April 25, 2016

The Crossing

I was bouncing about, hunting for a church in Columbia, and a college friend suggested the Crossing. Among other noble and interesting things about the church, he mentioned the girls.

The Crossing was and is, of course, full of beautiful and fantastic women. But I quickly noticed other things. Sermons where it felt like pastors were speaking right to my life. Music that stirred the soul. People of all stripes wanting to live for God.

There were certainly times growing up when church felt like a bit of a chore, but the Crossing was something I didn’t like missing. I brought the phrase “appointment television” or “appointment viewing” to my friend group. As in, when an event, usually sports, was so big that you blocked off time on the calendar to make sure you saw it. We usually use it sarcastically, when a game is ridiculously unimportant. But the Crossing actually felt like appointment viewing.

Along the way, slower than I’d like to admit, it became not just viewing, but participating. I joined a small group and loved it. I decided to take the Discovery Class to learn more about the church and eventually become a member.

One of the only other people I knew in the Discovery Class was a girl from my small group, and she liked to sit on the front row, so I sat on the front row. It was like having Keith Simon and Dave Cover talk in your living room while you sat on your couch, which feels fitting, as Dave used to live in the house where I now reside.

Toward the end of the class, Keith talked about serving in the church. He talked about the need to get involved, and the phrase “get your butt in the two-year-old room” of Crossing Kids stuck with me. They handed out cards where we could check areas we would be willing to serve. Buoyed by Keith’s bluntness and the person next to me checking they could serve in Crossing Kids, I took a leap and checked that box as well.

Having no discernible skills with kids, I told the staff to put me wherever they needed me, so I ended up in the Fourth Grade room.

Whatever personality type is not Type A is mine. I can often only hit the extremes of being socially reserved or saying whatever ridiculousness comes to mind. Stepping into big, new situations can be a nervy experience for me; big group 20-Somethings functions, my new small group, that Crossing Kids classroom. But all you can do is step out in faith, a super poor man’s Abraham leaving his home country and the familiar. I prayed God would put me to good use.

My Crossing Kids experience has been wonderful. I met fantastic people. I played Sorry and chess and remembered how marvelous Chutes and Ladders is. I chatted with kids about their faith and their lives and their schools and their families and their pets. I’ve had numerous chats with the boys about being a man, which is kind of preposterous.

A few months ago, I found myself teaching Psalm 23, talking about it with a table of kids. It struck me that older believers have been teaching younger believers this psalm for thousands of years. I hoped I wasn’t letting that chain of believers down.

Of course, I’ll freely admit in my Crossing experience I’ve been more of a learner than a teacher. I remember sermons about relationships and how we treat other people, and the focus was not on legalism but on treating people like they have a soul and are created in the image of God. I remember sermons about our longing for God, often without realizing it, and how we try to fill that void with all kinds of things. I remember sermons about doubts and struggles.

Last August, kicking off another school year, around which Columbia’s heart beats, the Crossing had another terrific service. The music team was on point, and Dave Cover preached a sermon titled “Intimately Acquainted” from Psalm 139.

“The same God who created the universe is intense and intentional about you and about every detail of your life,” he said.

Dave contrasted our plan for our lives vs. God’s plan; my chasing the wind for a wife and material riches and prestige contrasted with God leading me to what He wants. That one’s still a challenge.

Earlier this year, Keith Simon preached a sermon titled, “Jesus is the Light in a Dark World.” It was so powerful. Sometimes, a lot of times even, things don’t work out. But Jesus’ light shines on, pointing to hope and redemption.

I sometimes feel like I’m the last Christian who should be writing a blog post about faith, accustomed as I am with my own shortcomings. But God has so blessed me with the Crossing that I felt the need to write. I’ve met remarkable people there who make those delightful Sunday services happen and make the world a better, brighter, more beautiful place. I love my church home.

On Sunday, we ended the service with communion, a beautiful moment of orchestrated chaos as we all come forward. We sang “Every Hour I Need You” and “King of My Heart” during that time.

A refrain from the latter song stuck with me.

You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down...

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