IT HAD BEEN AWHILE, I suppose, since they needed extra hymnbooks at a Sunday morning worship service.
But this past Sunday at my home congregation, St. John’s Lutheran in Vesta, the ushers and elders pulled out and dusted off surplus hymnals before distributing them to worshipers seated in the social hall overflow section.
The last time I saw those hymnbooks, they were stacked on counters in the church kitchen. And the fellowship hall, where I was sitting on a folding chair, was crammed with pews and pew cushions, banners, a dismantled statue of Jesus, and an assortment of items moved there from the sanctuary following a damaging summer storm.
A year ago, a storm packing 90 – 100 mph winds ripped half the roof from St. John’s sanctuary, leaving the congregation without a permanent home for 10 months. Members worshiped at their sister congregation, Peace Lutheran in nearby Echo, before returning on May 6 to their church in Vesta.
However, the dedication of the addition—which includes an office, storage space, handicapped accessible bathroom and enlarged narthex—and rededication of the repaired sanctuary were delayed two months to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the July 1 storm.
On Sunday, I attended the service of prayer and thanksgiving, of dedicating the addition and rededicating the sanctuary “to the glory and the service of the Lord,” according to the Rev. Dale Schliewe.
Singing words like “Christ is our cornerstone, on him alone we build…built on the rock secure…here is the day’s dedication…,” we celebrated.
It felt good to be there, in my home church, the building in which I was married, the place where I have mourned the deaths of loved ones, the sanctuary where I have celebrated confirmations and baptisms and weddings and many Christmases and Easters.
It was good to be home, to bow my head and fold my hands and pray: “…contine to take this house into your protection… Be with us always to bless, to keep and to save.”
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling