Devotional: October 10th
Growing up in a small Midwestern town I developed some simple appreciations which have never left me. I still say "Sir" and "Ma'am" to most folks older than me. I hold a door for people, especially ladies and children. I don't sit down until the ladies at a table have been seated. Then there was one the other day that came back to me. I was at the local coffee shop and I was the only customer at the time as it was fairly early. The barista was setting up the back room and I went back to help. "Tom," she told me sternly, "I've told you before, you don't have to help me do this." My reply was simple. "My dad told me that real men don't watch women work."
I have drawn a lot of who and what I am from my parents. The funny thing is, the one thing they did for me I do not now get to enjoy. I was raised on a front porch. The old home at 34 Maple Street, Jeffersonville, Ohio, has a wonderful front porch just perfect for sitting in the evening or even the early morning, if you are so inclined. After supper we would take a glass of iced tea and go out on the front porch and sit and watch the world go by. Some of the world would stop by from time to time.
In small towns back in the 60's, people walked a lot. They would just go take a walk and relax in doing so. Invariably their route would lead them right past our front door. I have seen ten people or so gathered on our front porch just talking and relaxing. And mom would always make sure they were offered something to drink, usually iced tea. All the problems of the world would get solved and the bonds of true community would be cemented as a result of such times.
Yes, for some reason, the world as we knew it, Jeffersonville, Ohio, often congregated right there on our front porch. Off duty local police officers, the mayor, council members, street workers, school teachers and even kids out on their bicycles; at one time or another they all found a place of acceptance on our front porch. That was what that front porch was all about. It was all about acceptance; acceptance of each other as family, acceptance of neighbors as friends. That front porch became a haven for people in their walks, a brief respite from their little journey.
The church is much like that simple front porch. The church is a place where people congregate. Hence, the term congregation. The church is also a place where everybody and anybody can find acceptance. Acceptance as friends, as family, as having worth. The church is the people of God; a people ready to hold all those who seek Christ and His promises. That's the "whoever" that Jesus was talking about when He said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 Aren't you glad that Jesus let you sit with Him on His front porch?
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