Wanderers Pining for Home
A couple of weeks back I wrapped up my official summer reading list, capping off the literary journey with Beth Moore’s excellent memoir All My Knotted-Up Life. (Side note: I want to write as beautifully as Beth Moore does when I grow up. Seriously: get this book yesterday.)
In the closing pages, Beth chronicles her move to the Anglican church. (Another side note, which is necessary to the rest of this post: I’ve long been fascinated by the Anglican tradition, though I can’t necessarily say I’m drawn to the weekly rhythms of the liturgy and accoutrements of the Anglican tradition. Fascinated by it. Respect it. Don’t have an issue with it. Would visit it. Not necessarily permanently drawn to it.)
But it’s because of my fascinated by it / not drawn to it status that I was particularly taken by one portion of her Anglican journey. Like I would, she struggled for a bit with the worship style differences between her Southern Baptist upbringing and newfound Anglican practices. She fumbled and tripped over the high liturgy for the first few weeks, but stuck with it. I’ll let her pick up her own story here:
I could settle in for a couple of minutes while the offering plate was passed and review my bulletin and see what we were doing next. I was going to be ready for it this time.
What I wasn’t ready for, however, was the offertory music that day. It was instrumental, keyboard only, in the hands of a silver-haired, sweet-smiling gentleman about my age, wearing a suit and tie. I recognized the song four notes in. Middle C, F, A, treble C.
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
…I’d track down the organist after the service and thank him for such an act of service, playing that Batpist hymn for this old Baptist girl, and he said how glad he was that I enjoyed it. Said he keeps the hymnals of other denominations and chooses from one every week in case a wanderer is in the house pining for home.
Don’t skim that last part: in case a wanderer is in the house pining for home.
As I read that line, I was struck by the kindness of that musician. The intentionality of his hospitality. The thoughtfulness he offered to a sojourner seeking a piece of familiarity.
In our weekend services, how often do we offer up a piece of familiarity to the wanderers among us? Maybe it is a traditional hymn in the midst of an otherwise contemporary service. Maybe it’s a bit of liturgy among the technical wizardry. Perhaps it’s simply explaining something that’s unfamiliar, helping the uninitiated navigate a new space.
This weekend…every weekend…we will have wanderers in our midst, pining for home. How can we be family to them?