To Krissy it felt like putting on an old, familiar shirt, only the shirt had shrunk a good three sizes. The building still had the same outside, but everything inside felt oddly uncomfortable. She was the first one there that cold, December morning. For the moment she was grateful. It would give her a chance to check things out.
For almost a year the members of this little church had been partitioned out. The old building needed an overhaul, Father Thomas had said, to make it earthquake sound and to update this and that…by that time Krissy had stopped listening. The general rumbling of the congregation echoed her own murky thoughts. What would they do without their precious church?
Not yet ready to enter the sanctuary, Krissy tiptoed down the stairs to peek into the children’s Sunday School room. Stark, white walls screamed for a splash of color. She went in search of a few pictures and things to help make it more welcoming. After all, if she felt funny about the changes, the children would obviously feel it as well.
For a while everyone tried to hold the Sunday meeting in members’ homes. It didn’t last long. No one had enough room to house a hundred and three people. Eventually the flow of attendees faded, until the last few decided to give up until the building was ready. Krissy felt herself slowly become lost, a faceless, nameless shell no one outside her little circle of friends acknowledged. It was her own fault, she’d admitted as much.
Ah ha! Here was the treasure trove she hunted for. Out of a small cupboard she drew out piles of pictures, a few toys, and her favorite puppets made in the image of Bible characters.
“Well, hello Noah. So nice to see you again.” She tenderly placed the well-known objects around the room at last satisfied it wouldn’t be such a shock.
Krissy had only decided last minute to come. It had more to do with curiosity than a desire to worship. She was a dedicated introvert, preferring to maintain her isolation while ironically hoping others would throw out little crumbs of attention every now and then. When the in-home services stopped, so did she. There was no contact with anyone in the church outside of the occasional phone call.
The muffled clatter of footsteps reminded her it was almost time for the service to start. She shuffled up the stairs, surprised at the amount of people who’d snuck in while she’d been redecorating. There were several new faces, obviously souls just as curious as she to see how the face-lift had gone. The faint smell of paint tickled her nose, though it didn’t compare to the appalling sight affronting her eyes.
The stained-glass window was gone.
Krissy’s heart shrieked in silence. She’d loved that window. Reason told her it had to be taken out, but the reality hurt in ways she hadn’t imagined. She stared at the wall where her window should have been while slowly walking to her pew.
“Krissy, darling, how good to see you. Aren’t you so glad to be back?”
It was Sister Jensen. Every Sunday Sister Jensen sat behind Krissy, a peppermint in hand. For a moment Krissy let the sweet smile of the dear grandmother warm her. Then she took a moment to look around. Familiar faces swarmed in now. A few fingers pointed to the undesirable wall, though the frown quickly turned upside down as they met with friends.
Several stopped by to say hello, each filling her heart a little more with their obvious delight in being back together. On impulse Krissy clenched her eyes shut, mentally erasing her chalkboard of preconceived notions. It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust upon opening, yet it seemed to have worked.
There, at the organ, sat Brother Johnson. On the front row perched the Bailey family, all ten of them. Krissy turned to look behind and sure enough the Richardson, Patterson, and Fedderson families lined the back three rows. Twelve boys between all three, making the ‘son’ portion of their names the oldest church joke.
Only when Father Thomas stood, in the same place he’d stood for the last ten years, did Krissy finally realize the old building could get as many face-lifts as it wanted. It was the people, oh these wonderful people, and the incredible Christ-like spirit they brought with them who made this church like home.
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