I was in Upper Elementary school when Greenville Avenue Christian Church in Dallas closed its doors. My Mom came into our Junior Youth Fellowship meeting on a Sunday night in the big corner room upstairs from the Church parlor. She said, "Imagine coming home one day and finding out that Central had closed."
"Central" was Central Christian Church of Dallas, my home congregation. Frankly, Central closing its doors was inconceivable at the time. We had two services on Sunday and one on Wednesday. Sunday School and Youth groups were jammed with kids. The line for fellowship luncheons occasionally stretched from the Sanctuary down the long hallway to the Fellowship Hall. We had to put out extra chairs every Easter.
So much of our lives revolved around Central . It was the first place my parents ever took me, after Grandma's house and the doctor's. I was raised there, baptized there, felt called to ministry there. We buried my Mom there in 1987, and a year later I was ordained to Christian ministry there.
I preached my first sermons there, led prayer retreats there, carried on a "ministry at large" from there in congregations around the State. So many, many faces, names, memories remain etched in my heart and soul, stretching back as far as "Lundy", who kept the nursery when I was still in it. Ms Betty Boatman, Dr Rowand, Don Hiscox, the Zorns, the Shinns, the Formans, the Gammons. The list goes on and on.
And now, this once great body that had worshiped continuously since its beginning over a blacksmith's shop at the depth of the Civil War in 1863 has gathered for the last time.
"Imagine coming home one day and finding out that Central had closed," she said all those years ago.
O God of Resurrection, walk with us as this great mother of faith, this anchor within the veil, fades from our sight. Draw us from the grief of earthly parting, and give us amidst the tears a vision of that future home where every tear will be wiped away, and death and dying will be no more.
In Jesus' name, Amen.