I walked into my church yesterday after almost three weeks and thought to myself, "I'm just so glad it's back." Then I chuckled to myself at the root of this familiar phrase which flashes in my brain all together too often. I know I've said it here before but just don't think I can adequately express it, no matter how often I write it...
I love Seinfeld.
In fact, though the TV show ended in 1998, my husband and I were such fans that even today, we still quote the series.
One of my favorites comes from an episode entitled "The Voice."
Jerry and his friends have come up with a voice by which his girlfriend's belly button fictitiously talks to him. The voice alternately says "hello" & "la, la, la" & utters the occasional Spanish "hola." Eventually the girlfriend finds out, tells Jerry it's her or the voice, and in typical irreverent Seinfeld fashion, he chooses the voice.
For once, Jerry's friends cannot believe that he dumped his girlfriend for something as silly as using a funny voice, so, though it brings him incredible joy, they convince him the voice novelty is played out. Jerry gets back together with his girlfriend, begrudgingly discontinues the voice until, in a freak Kramer accident, the girlfriend has a drum of oil dumped on her (don't ask, just go watch the episode if you haven't seen it...Kramer is in rare form), and the four friends bring the bellybutton talking, oil dodging, "la, la, la" fiction to life. Jerry is tickled once they're cleared to use the voice again and utters my favorite line:
"I'm just so glad it's back."
Walking into my church yesterday, I looked to my right and saw my daughter, Colleen, rehearsing with the praise band.
I sat down, the woman in front of me turning around to squeeze my hand and say, "My daughter has been asking where your son is...she misses hearing him sing behind us."
Kneeling down to talk with my Father before the service commenced, I felt a tap on my shoulder from behind, and my friend, Ann, asked, "No second reader showed today, so Alyssa has to read both. Do you mind reading the second Scripture?"
Services started and as we sang the opening hymn, I watched my son carry the cross down the aisle as he began serving the altar.
So much comfort in the communal, feeding me from the empty of my absence, completely surrounding me.
There was the Matthews family who signed up to feed the needy, so their five year old could learn the value of service.
Behind the ambo was Deacon Shane, preaching a profound sermon on the man, representing us sinners, robbed on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho then helped by the Good Samaritan, representing the saving grace of God.
I felt the nubby cloth of the kneeler as I lowered myself for the Communion rite.
I saw the cream-colored tile that I imagined laying on, face down, burrowing deep, deep beneath it to the center of the Earth to hold my daddy's earthly vessel after he passed away.
I heard the strum of the guitar; the chant of voices raised together in prayer; the babies squealing and murmuring.
I tasted the Body and Blood of Christ, humbled by the thought that it was saving me.
I sensed my community, steadfast and strong from beginning to end, waving across pews, shaking hands, singing and reading together, wishing one another "Peace."
I grasped how deeply I am impacted every week by the faith I share with these people.
But, community is not ready made. It is born and bred of service and shared experience.
It is cultivated through song and Word and Him.
And sometimes, it helps to go elsewhere for a few weeks, striking out to another church.
Because when you come back, you truly appreciate the magnitude,
the preciousness of your church, your very own Body of Christ.
"I'm just so glad it's back."