COMMENTARY

Good to be in the house of the Lord

As Ky. Baptist churches reopen, we are reminded of what we've missed

Unity Baptist Church in Ashland, Ky., reopened to in-person services on Sunday. (Unity Baptist/Brad Callaway)
Unity Baptist Church in Ashland, Ky., reopened to in-person services on Sunday. (Unity Baptist/Brad Callaway)
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“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’” – Psalms 122:1 (NIV)


It had been exactly 70 days since the last time I walked into the church sanctuary. That’s the longest stretch of missed days from church in my 62 years.


It was like drinking a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. It was refreshing, it was liberating, and it was familiar.


We walked into the vestibule and saw friends we hadn’t seen since March. Some of them were wearing masks but, even behind those new fashion statements, their eyes smiled back at us.


It was good to be in the house of the Lord.


While thankful for the work of those who kept the church services coming through online portals, there was something about being there in person. That familiarity and fellowship with other believers – even from six feet apart – was more missed than realized.


Even without the hugs and handshakes that typically occur, it was good to be in the house of the Lord.


We were greeted immediately upon entering and handed an old-fashioned fan, like the kind they used to give away at funeral homes. It seems our air conditioner wasn’t working at full steam and maybe not at all. Minor inconvenience. We were happy to be here.


The directions were to go down the center aisle to find our seats. Every other pew was taped off. “My” pew was available (thank goodness) so my wife and I navigated our way to it. Eight pews back from the front on the left side of the building. (Just so you know, I’d have been happy to sit anywhere).


But that pew arm is made for my arm (or maybe I’ve made it that way). It’s got the curvature of my forearm perfectly indented. (Not really, but, I’ll admit, it was nice to have that seat).


It was good to be in the house of the Lord.


Everybody was encouraged to wear a mask and some did. We wore them coming into the sanctuary (my wife’s matched her dress). Family units were spread out throughout the sanctuary a safe distance from each other – more than 8 feet - and I’d estimate about 75 in attendance for the second service of the day.


We sang – most without masks – but there was so much distance between each other there wasn’t much fear of spreading germs on each other. And it sure was a joyful noise, music being another area of worship that we’ve missed so badly and maybe didn’t even realize it.


The service wasn’t anything different than usual – beautiful music and great biblical preaching - although our pastor and worship leader seemed to have more pep in their step than we’ve seen from them online. Their energy was way up for good reason. Singing and speaking to air since March 14 has taken a toll on them, too. I’m sure it was an encouragement to have the church, ever so gradually, back in the building.


It was good to be in the house of the Lord.


The offering plate wasn’t passed and everybody exited out the same way in orderly fashion. Nobody stayed and chatted inside or outside the building and the pastor didn’t shake hands at the door. Some things will have to be a little different for a while anyway.


But at the end of the day, that cold drink of water on the hot summer day seemed to be more refreshing than ever. It was an elixir for the soul.


It was good to be in the house of the Lord.


MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today and a member of Unity Baptist Church in Ashland, Ky. Reach him at mark.maynard@kentuckytoday.com

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