Once upon a time there was a little church, surrounded by picturesque farm fields, on a beautiful plot of land known as Morganville. Standing on its porch you could sometimes hear the whinnying of nearby horses or the hum of a farm tractor. It was the United Church of Christ and it indeed lived up to its creed of being a warm, God-centered place where people could find a spiritual home. Ever since anyone could remember it was the hub of activity for the local people as they gathered for worship and Sunday school, prepared and enjoyed dinners for the community, held ice cream socials and other events. It’s where people came to celebrate weddings, baby showers and to say their final goodbyes. As several generations grew together, supported each other, married and settled, it seemed like nothing would ever disrupt the ebb and flow of the lives it touched.
But one day the winds of change began to blow across the fields. No one even noticed at first. It started as a gentle breeze then occasionally becoming a gust or two until finally a steady force of nature. It was like watching storm clouds building, coming your way and there’s little you can do about it.
Older people began, one by one, to be called to their heavenly home. The younger generation lost focus. There were so many distractions that caught their attention. Time became as scarce as the money they worked so hard for. There were so many more material gods to pursue that eventually hardly anyone was left. Disagreements about changing cultural norms, what’s acceptable and what’s not, seemed to be the beginning of the end for the little country church. Children grew up and moved away. Some that stayed forgot about what it meant to be part of a church family. Those that attended could only think about the day’s gone by and wonder why. But - they never gave up.
Then, quietly at first, with hardly anyone noticing, the winds began to shift. Little by little a gentle breeze from a new direction. And with the breeze came new life and a glimmer of hope.
It began with new messengers, bringing God’s story in different ways. Oh, it was the same truths of God’s love and sacrifice for all, with an emphasis on inner peace and love for one another. But it was heard in such a way that people started talking and spreading the good news once again.
Next came a talented musician who played beautiful music. Her playing enhanced the weekly hymns, occasional solos, monthly sing-alongs and the newly formed choir. It was often said that it brought the feeling of God’s presence to the little church. It was such an inspiration that many came just for the experience of being moved by the universal language that is music.
An unexpected gift from neighbors brought with it needed repairs and a fresh coat of paint.
Two centuries were celebrated as community dinners fed the people once again.
Those in recovery found a new home and people with little means continued to receive free groceries – along with compassionate conversation.
Random acts of kindness flowed from the pews as God’s Golden Rule was put to the test. Rides were given, meals paid for, a listening ear, words of comfort expressed. People prayed with others and offered support. Driveways were shoveled for those that couldn’t do it themselves. The simple act of leaving the quarter in the slot for the next customer’s grocery cart might have made someone’s day. Infants and the elderly were fed. In just a few months over fifty acts of kindness were recorded and many more were left unsaid, all in the spirit of Christ. And the people continue to reach out to others even until this day.
Changes began for the little church in Morganville. People started joining again. Children’s voices could be heard throughout the services and celebrations. New families along with those who had been there for years, joined together to express ideas and make plans for the future. A future that looked dim just a few years earlier was now gaining momentum.
And so, the winds continue to blow - past the houses and the corn fields and into the church pews. If you happen to go there on a Sunday morning, alone, before the service and sit in the back, you can almost feel the presence of those that went before. As the sunshine illumes through the stain glass you can’t help but think of all that has happened here over the years. You can almost hear the singing, the prayers, the laughter and the tears and you will wait in anticipation for the chance to be a part of something special.
Now no one knows what the future holds, for them or for this sacred space. But one thing’s for certain, God’s spirit is present when people gather here to pray.
And when the gentle breeze blows across the landscape as the winds bring changes in life, may we seek comfort with each other, at the little church, surrounded by fields, on the beautiful patch of land we know as Morganville.