Back in October (& just two posts previous to this) I challenged myself & a friend to find a church with whom to celebrate the holidays. I plotted out on my calendar 6 straight weeks of visiting new houses of worship for my family. At L's insistence we tried Fremont Baptist Church first and we've been there ever since.
Our first Sunday there, the newsletter proclaimed, "Come As You Are, You Are Welcome Here." I was surprised to learn how truly they meant that both in terms of supporting folks in need who are dealing with homelessness, illness, grief, aging, and other challenges, and in terms of extending warmth like greeting us as soon as we entered, laughing with us, letting L & me know that they enjoyed Baby N's singing.
In her preaching, Pastor J delivers a clear, actionable message without sugar-coating the complexity of real life. When the day's scripture juxtaposed Isaiah's message of comfort with John the Baptist's call to repentance, Pastor J referred to a couple in the church grieving the recent death of a grandchild. Right now, they need comfort. Other times it was for repentance. And we all need both - neither precludes the other. In a Christmas sermon she preached on Anna (not Simeon) and matter-of-factly cited the counts against Anna due to her gender - and in the same tone showed us that Anna, an old widow in the woman's court, was the first evangelist. And while this sermon wasn't about gender, Pastor J's examples included her own mother, sister, and a stressed out mom in a ladies' room. These strong female characters challenged us to be ourselves - with all our quirks & all the elements seemingly against us (especially those we have no control over) - and share Christ through our lives. Each week L & I go home chatting about some aspect of the sermon that stood out for us.
So we are making Fremont Baptist Church our regular church home. Baby N will be dedicated there on his first birthday (just a few weeks away!) and we'll share the celebration with these folks who are so welcoming and inspiring for us.
For more about the church, please visit their website: http://www.fremontbaptistchurch.org/