Reading Cynthia Campbell’s book God’s Abundant Table, I read the biblical story of Levi’s conversion in Luke 5.27-32 and ponder Campbell’s question: “Has an invitation ever changed your life? How?” I think about the significant life questions posed to me along the journey: “will you marry me?” . . . “where will you go to college?” . . . “will you go with me?” . . . but the question that sticks in my memory was the simplest one of all: “isn’t it about time?”
I went to church as an adult seeking an education. I had come to faith and belief (if those two can be thought of separately) and I wanted to know more about this man I said I would follow. I was a student seeking teachers.
I found them at Beechwood Presbyterian Church in my hometown at the time.
Like Goldilocks in search of the perfect meal, chair or bed, I had attended or tried out various other churches before making my way to Beechwood. One didn’t welcome or notice me amidst the throng at all. Another noticed me too much and stalked me to work and tempting me to join them with cookies. One only liked me when they saw me connected with someone they already knew. Another liked me well enough but was nervous that one like me would even be there. And so it went until I found my way to Beechwood.
After a few Sundays, the pastor spoke to me about what I was seeking. I remember (with some shame) telling him that I was not seeking friends, I already had friends – I was seeking to learn.
With his usual gentle smile, Pastor John told me about the adult Sunday School classes and about a prayer group that met on Sunday evenings. I joined both. And I learned.
Pastor John let me poke along like that for about a year before he came back to me and gently asked me if it wasn’t about time I joined the church. And I agreed – simple as that. I didn’t think at the time that I was waiting to be asked, but perhaps I was.
And I was right about one thing: I didn’t make friends. What I did was find a family.
Almost twenty years and countless bible studies, seminary classes, workshops and conferences later, now I’m the pastor and it’s up to me to ask folks, ‘isn’t it about time?’
Life’s funny that way.