Earlier this week, I officiated my grandmother’s funeral in Scooba, Mississippi, a town with a population of around 650 people. For its small size, Scooba boasts several churches, including my grandmother’s Presbyterian church, which is on the same street as two others.
My grandmother’s friends are long gone, and she hasn’t lived in Scooba for nearly 20 years. Yet this little country church was packed, not just with family but also townspeople who remembered her as “Miss Becky” from way back when. One told me the story of my great-grandfather dying in that very church while teaching his adult Sunday School class. Another said my grandmother would visit home bound parishioners every Sunday afternoon and take them freshly made divinity (a sweet Southern delicacy). My aunt reminisced about standing up in one of the church pews as a toddler and singing “Trust and Obey” (which she pronounced “Trust and Snow-bey”) at the top of her lungs.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
After the funeral and graveside service, we finished off the morning with a lunch for the family hosted at the church. There was fried chicken, casseroles galore, and the best iced tea you can find. Let’s just say Scooba showed up and showed out to honor my grandmother and comfort her family. It could not have been more perfect.
While New York City has a more transient quality than small town Mississippi, Incarnation also has a few families going back generations. And we certainly hold departed parishioners in our memory and in our hearts. I never met Thomas Southworth or Gemma Just, for example, but I have heard the (very colorful!) stories.
Church community has a way of giving you that small town feeling if you stick around long enough. It’s one reason why I can call New York City home. Frankly, it’s THE reason. Life in the big city only works for me because I’m part of a group of Christians through whom I find and am found by God.
So, Incarnation, let’s keep showing up and showing out — for one another and for Jesus Christ. It will help us find our true home in him.