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Granada Heights Friends Church

Church is a complex thing. It’s full of arms that rocked me in a room once painted with bible murals. It’s full of hands that gave me donuts and Big Sticks, and lifted me onto the organ bench so I could run my fingers over the keys. It’s full of familiar voices that preached and performed and lead children in singing, “Johnny works with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer. Johnny works with one hammer, then he works with two.” 

It is full of closets storing the paraphernalia from Wacky Wednesdays and Joy Bells and START. It’s full of remodels that left doors in hidden places and made rooftops accessible through oddly placed windows, and left patches of ground between rising buildings, patches of ground loved and attended and then left to the weeds only to be rediscovered, torn up, planted, and loved all over again.

Granada is a complex thing. As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I could see no end to the love my elders gave me at church: a prayer, a role in the Christmas play, carpeted boxes to sit on in the library, and foreign food to taste at booths on Missions Sundays.

Then suddenly I was grown-up, and my elders were moving away or pushing walkers or displaying their true colors or losing all their memories of me and the love that they showed me. And I wished to find the gods of yesterday and allow them to coddle me again while I looked up into their wise faces and thought them unbreakable.

But church is an iconoclastic thing. Breaking down our idyllic visions of people and places and events, and compelling us to seek someone greater and stronger and eternal. It is how God works to remind us that we, like this church, are flawed. We must look past the noisy boulevard, the lipstick-tube steeple, the problematic acoustics, the imperfect leaders, and the persnickety attenders, we must look past it all and see the source of the love overflowing here. Here in this imperfectly perfect church.

Fearing to launch on "full surrender's' tide,I asked the Lord where would its waters glideMy little bark, "To troubled seas I dread?""Unto Myself," He said.  
Weeping beside an open grave I stood,In bitterness of soul I cried to God:"Where lead this path of sorrow that I tread?""Unto Myself," He said. 
Striving for souls, I loved the work too well;Then disappointments came; I could not tellThe reason, till He said, "I am thine all;Unto Myself I call." 
Watching my heroes—those I loved the best—I saw them fail; they could not stand the test,Even by this the Lord, through tears not fewUnto Himself me drew. 
Unto Himself! No earthly tongue can tellThe bliss I find, since in His heart I dwell;The things that charmed me once seem all as naught;Unto Himself I'm brought.

Streams in the Desert. Compiled by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman 1925 (August 21) 


Grandma Seelye said…
You are a writer AND a philosopher! Profound!
Maegan said…
This is beautifully written Abby. This piece shows a lot of depth and heart! Thanks for sharing it with the public so I could catch it and reminisce as it totally reminded me of growing up at Granada! START and Wacky Wednesdays-- good times!
Unknown said…
Patty showed this to me the other day, and I was very pleased to see how you have managed to process the changes in your church experience. As a pastor who has left two churches, Granada and just recently having retired from First Baptist of Yucaipa, and worried about the effects on the flocks we left behind, again, I was pleased to see how you have successfully navigated church change in your life. When I was dealing with my coming as yet unannounced retirement and feeling guilty about "abandoning" the flock, someone sent me a Daily Bread page about Eccl. 3, a time for this and a time for that, and I realized that there are seasons for individuals and seasons for churches, and that is the reality of life. Fortunately there is one solid foundation of every biblical church and while the builders come and go, the foundation remains the same. So glad you have found that to be true, Abbie!

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