Stop! This is the twentieth episode!
Looking for the beginning of Kay’s Story?
- Kay (Part one) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Two) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Three) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Four) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Five) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Six) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Seven) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay (Part Eight) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Nine) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Ten) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Eleven) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Twelve) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Thirteen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Fourteen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Fifteen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Sixteen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Seventeen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Jeff’s Turn) (Part Eighteen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
- Kay’s Story (Part Nineteen) (thinkinlikegavroche.wordpress.com)
Jeff didn’t know quite what to expect when Kay invited him to this traditional looking little church. He’d dressed in his spiffy “Sunday best” and mentally rehearsed all the right churchy things to say. Now, looking at Kay, he realized she was dressed for a normal day out. His collar seemed to be getting tighter by the second and his coat might as well have been a straitjacket for all the mobility it gave him.
“Kay, wow, you look… beautiful as always.” He fidgeted with his tie and whispered hoarsely, “I’m totally overdressed, aren’t I?”
She looked up at him, with a reassuring smile. “You look dashing. It is a little more formal than what most folks wear, but that’s okay. I probably look like a total wreck, compared to you. It was a long night with the baby.”
“No, Kay, you seriously look great. Can I carry something for you?”
He swung a pink diaper bag over his shoulder, took a deep breath, and stepped through the large wooden doors. He fully expected whispers and stares, most likely accompanied by organ music. Instead, he was immediately ambushed by a couple just inside the door. The man, who looked to be in his 70s at the youngest, gripped his hand enthusiastically. A woman, apparently his wife, was not to be outdone. As soon as Jeff got his hand free, he found himself in the midst of a grandmotherly hug. Jeff tentatively returned their greeting and introduced himself. Bulletin now in hand, he shot a questioning glance at Kay. “Where do we sit?” His eyes scanned the room. He realized with relief that his clothes didn’t matter. The dress code varied from person to person. Every look was represented, from ripped jeans and multiple piercings to immaculate dresses and perfectly coiffed hair.
Kay laughed at the expression of shock lingering on his face and pointed to a row towards the middle of the sanctuary. “Our church is one big family. You’ll have to get used to lots of hugs, if you stick around. Oh! There’s Pastors Zack and Emily! C’mon Jeff, you’ve gotta meet my second parents.”
Without thinking, Kay latched onto his hand with her free arm and hauled him forward. The pleasant warmness of her small hand around his distracted him enough that he missed the beginning of the introductions. He came to himself just in time to catch the tail end of Pastor Zack asking him something about motorcycles. Jeff felt his neck burn as he tried to piece together whatever it was the Pastor had said. “I don’t think I’ve ever hear a Pastor talk about bikes before. You have one, Pastor, uh, sir? A motorcycle, I mean?” Pastor Zack laughed sheepishly. “Well, I did at one time. I found it became a bit of a distraction for me, though. Then, God got my attention in a funny way one day… I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.” Pastor Emily smiled. “Jeff, I hate to interrupt, but I’ve got to get up front and start the service. We’re so glad you are with us today!” Pastor Zack slapped him on the back. “You come and find me during the picnic and I’ll tell you that story, okay son? Just follow your nose. I’ll be flippin’ the burgers.” “Yes sir, I’ll be looking forward to it.”
Jeff and Kay made their way back to a seat just as Pastor Emily reached the pulpit. It took a few tries at “Good morning and amen” before the congregation got the hint and started to quiet down.
After announcements, the Pastors asked all the visitors to stand. To Jeff’s surprise, he was not the only newbie in the house. At least ten other people stood, each of them looking almost as dazed by all the attention as he felt. Their status as visitors was marked by the crowd with loud cheers and clapping, more reminiscent of fans at a homefield football team than participants in a solemn ecclesial service.
The music was a far cry from the hymns and robed choir of Jeff’s hometown. This choir had electric guitars and a drum set and a lead singer with a spiky hair. That would have been shocking enough by itself, but even more bewildering was the fact that the ages of the church varied so much. Happy toddlers scurried about and elderly folks grooved with one hand on a walker and the other raised high in the air. The emotions on people’s faces seemed so intense, so genuine. Even Kay was glowing, her eyes closed and her lips moving to the words of the song. Jeff had never seen anything quite like this simplicity of just singing your feelings to God. One thing was for sure, nobody could call this church boring or traditional!
But what hit Jeff the hardest was the message that followed. It wasn’t given my either of the pastors. Instead, a young man stood and told his life’s story. It wasn’t some pretty picture perfect tale, either. He bared his heart, sharing the pain of a childhood of abuse and divorced parents, bullies in school and lingering issues of shattered self confidence. As he spoke of finding God, he didn’t end with a plastic finish. He admitted that while he had come far, his life was still a daily process of growth. In closing, held up a square of paper, inscribed with a single Greek word: koinonia. Intimate, dirty, detailed, real. This was the definition of what church relationships should look like, he emphasized. “Christians shouldn’t be afraid to look brokenness in the face. We must be unhindered by masks- free to help each other without reserve and artifice.” As he handed the microphone back to the pastors, he looked shy for the first time that morning. It was as if he’d been given some special boldness, just when he needed it.
The pastor invited anyone who wanted prayer to go up to the front. Jeff wanted to go, he really did. He felt a strange longing in his heart, a sense of something calling him forward. Out of the corner of his eye, he snuck a peek at Kay. She looked suspiciously as if she was trying purposefully not to look at him. Jeff wondered what she would think if he went up. He hoped she wouldn’t think he was trying to impress her, because it really wasn’t that. He hesitated, and then stood, his heart pounding in his ears. Slowly, he made his way forward. Without knowing why, Jeff suddenly felt that this day might just be the most important one of his life.
To be continued…