by A.A. Neale
Pretty much the same faces greet me each week. The same preacher gets behind the same pulpit every Sunday. The same Bible school teachers take their turns in front of the class.
Sure, there’s turnover. Some folk move on, others die. People from the world are immersed and join our ranks. Once in a while someone falls to the clutches of the dark side.
And there is a variety of subjects to study. The preacher does well in providing a balanced diet of sermons. Even the prayers, where in some locations are stale and rote, in our congregation, show forethought and preparation.
But for all the variation, there is still that … sameness.
And it’s a good thing.
Like the sameness of going to visit your parents after having been gone from home. You feel comforted and comfortable, an easiness that knows how to act and what to expect, a routine easy to slip into but not monotonous or dull.
The church is like that. No unpleasant surprises, no drastic changes, no lurches to right or left. People among whom I can feel comforted and comfortable. I know the direction if not the words of brother John’s prayers. I know the gist if not the specific phrases of brother Mark’s teaching. And even though we vary the order of worship, I know how the prayers will be given an “Amen,” how the singing will sound, how the Lord’s supper will point us to the Cross.
Like the sameness of the eternal truth, like the “Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV).
In a world where every day reveals new and disturbing things, I need that sameness.
And, if I were a betting man, I’d bet a lot of other folk need it, too.
Like the God with whom there is no variation, the church enjoys a comforting sameness.