Monday, January 10, 2011

Remnants

My Mama sewed most of my wardrobe when I was growing up.  We would go to Belk Tyler's, look at what I liked on the rack, and then she would say, "Let's go down to the basement and look at patterns and material."  There I found patterns better than what was on the rack upstairs and materials that suited my tastes...and she let me have my picks.  I particularly gravitated towards patterns that weren't reflected in my friends wardrobes and material that had unusual prints.  I had quite a wardrobe, let me tell you!

Through the 8th grade, though, I dreaded hearing those words about looking at patterns and material.  I wanted to buy off the rack like everyone else.  I didn't appreciate having a cheap Mama until I got to high school.  Yeah, she was a talented seamstress and my clothes looked like they came off an upscale rack as far as quality, but she made them because she knew she could buy patterns & material cheaper than she could buy ready-made.  She was, and still is, cheap.  And I am grateful, as I find I am too and I apparently learned from the best.

She could knit, too.  All my sweaters were crafted by her.  I don't recall EVER having a store-bought sweater....till I grew up and had to supply my own wardrobe, that is!  I don't knit, or sew.  I don't have a particularly noteworthy wardrobe anymore either!  Alas and alack!  I didn't appreciate what I had till I no longer had it.  Oh, Mama's still alive and kicking, but at 80, her sewing and knitting days are pretty much behind her.

I didn't just have lots of neat clothes (which in high school I was actually envied by some girls for), she kept ALL her scraps of cloth and yarn.  Anytime my brother or I needed supplies for projects, we'd pull out that bag and the world was our oyster!  What other people may have seen as useless pieces of cloth and yarn, actually filled a purpose and came in quite handy.  We never lacked for remnants!

I ponder "remnants" a lot.  Not of the cloth & yarn variety, but people as it pertains to the church.  I love that God always kept remnants of the Israelites.  No matter what they were going through, God has never allowed them to be completely destroyed and devastated.  There has always been that remnant of the faithful.  Today, we talk of the church being in decline, but no matter what happens, God keeps a remnant everywhere.

"Remnants" by nature are small in number.  Sometimes it seems remnants think they are all that is left and they are alone.  God reminds us that is simply not true, that He has people all over the earth, even if they are scattered.

Sometimes I think the larger churches see us smaller ones as useless remnants.  I've heard pastors of large churches (hundreds of worshipers in their churches every week) even say that small churches shouldn't be allowed to exist because they drain resources from larger ones.  They tend to ignore God's longstanding pattern and nature of "ministry of the small."  They tend to ignore that Scripture testifies, over and over, where God's heart is.  It is with the weak, lowly, least, last, small, marginalized.  I believe it is also with the small church.

Yesterday (Sunday January 9, 2011), it was bitter cold and the church wasn't heating up fast enough and it was just about as cold inside as it was outside and didn't really warm up good till it was about time to go.  Yet the door kept opening and people kept coming!  We even had a new teenage face!  Our older ladies were in attendance, bundled up but with smiles on their faces, laughter in their hearts, and stories of faith that would make you cry and rejoice at the same time! 

We are one of those micro-small churches.  One of those larger churches don't understand why they are allowed to exist.  One of those that they think drain resources...of the "bank" kind.  We don't have the kind of resources they refer to.

What we do have. however, is a collected faith that will make some larger churches envious.  We have a God-given purpose in our community and we need to be small.  NEED to be!  There is never any doubt that God uses us and meets our needs; we can't pat ourselves on the back and think we accomplish anything under our own power, because we don't. 

As a micro-small church we can quadruple our worship attendance and still be "small."  God has his hand on us and as long as we keep our collective eye on Him, I have no doubt that we will be around a while! 

Like the remnants in my Mama's bag, we are small, we serve a purpose, and we come in quite handy!

And I am grateful.