Today was our last Sunday at Faith Covenant Church in Winnipeg, our church for the past three years. One of the reasons we chose Providence in the first place was because of its proximity to a Covenant church. (Though, in retrospect, I wouldn’t call an hour and twenty minutes round trip each Sunday such “close” proximity.)
In many ways I’ve loved our time there, though it was very different from our time at other churches we’ve attended. We were not as involved as we normally would be because of living out of the city and because of Marc’s seminary schedule. That was strange. And it often made us feel disconnected. But our times there on Sunday morning were very nurturing and reflective times. I will miss the thoughtfulness and depth with which they worship.
Perhaps it was a good thing for us to have these three years out of ministry while we were preparing for ministry at seminary (strange as that sounds). I think it’s good to step back and think about things, and I got a chance to do that while we were at Faith. Sometimes I think we just live our lives floating above our ideas of faith, landing on them occasionally, but bouncing back up and away from them because it’s easier to leave them unexamined. That being said, sometimes I do just the opposite. I plunge into the mire of my doubts and fears and am unable to escape the heavy muck that can’t be made sense of.
If you have read my blog for a while, you will recall that my Grandpa Stanley died about two weeks before we moved out here to Manitoba. It was almost exactly three years ago that I wrote these words, while contemplating losing my Grandpa (almost a year to the day that my Granny had passed away):
Still, there was the moment a few nights ago when I said to Marc, with tears streaming down my face, “So, do you believe in God and heaven and all that?” (Yeah, and we’re the ones off to seminary in a month…) And he said, “I think so… But I know grandpa does.”
I just wonder what it’s like to be at the moment when you face your life’s end, what it feels like, and if the doubts fade away. It all seems so scary to me, when I stop and think about it. But then I heard tonight that grandpa wants this hymn sung at his funeral, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean. How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be. How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Saviour’s love for me.”
Why does thinking about that make me cry so much? About grandpa being in the presence of the One whom he served all his life and who redeemed him and made him whole again? I know there is peace and comfort in that. But it’s a funny, kind of heart-breaking, peace.
“I Stand Amazed” was, indeed, played at my Granpda’s funeral. I’m not sure if I made it through singing it that day. But what I do know is that the first time it was sung when we got to Faith Covenant in Winnipeg I could not sing it. Not one word. I stood there crying. Marc noticed and put his arm around me. It made me remember my Grandpa, but it also made me remember my own doubts. Can I really sing those very confident words with such confidence?
This trend continued. The worship pastor at Faith really seems to like this song. I know he played it at least five more times over the coming years before I was able to sing the words without crying. That may have been the time they did it polka-style. Though, it’s possible I cried through a perky, polka version of it, too!
So, today, on our last Sunday, just as the service was nearing its close I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if he played “I Stand Amazed”?!” Ha ha. I’ve made it through the entire last service without getting emotional, wouldn’t that just be crazy if they play the song that gets to me every time.
And guess how the service ended.
As the first strum of the guitar began, up came the words to “I Stand Amazed” on the screen. And I did not make it through the song (actually, I couldn’t sing for all of the verses, but was finally able to sing on the last chorus). And Marc put his arm around me.
It wasn’t even about my Grandpa today, though. Rather, the song represented to me my time at Faith Covenant. A time when I have gone through much doubt and much struggle and even more growth. At the end of these three years I am becoming comfortable with my doubts. And I find that as I lean into them, instead of ignoring them, I get a truer sense of who I am and who God is and the moments of “knowing” are deeper and stronger.
There is room for reflection in the life of faith. And I am very thankful for my three reflective years at Faith.