Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rural Churches in May

Last month, to introduce our month of visiting urban churches, we wrote about how God loves big cities. This month, it's worth recalling that God loves the country, the wilderness, farms, and small towns. Most of the heroes of the Old Testament spent most of their lives far from cities. Abraham left the city to find the Promised Land, which had no delis or taquerias in those days. Moses spent two thirds of his life in the wilderness after enjoying big city palace life. In order to find David, the future king of Israel, the prophet had to go to a small town, Bethlehem; the same small town where Jesus was born. When Nathaniel (who would be one of Jesus' disciples) heard that Jesus was from Nazareth -- another small town -- he said, "Can anything good come from there?" pretty much like somebody from the East or West Coast talking about flyover country.

When Jesus told parables, some were about cities, but they were just as likely to be about farmers and crops or shepherds and sheep. When He wanted to be close to His Father, Jesus went away from the city, to the country or wilderness.

So, to use the understatement of eternity, if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us. This month we're going to places that are thought of as rural and towns that are small.

We're not being terribly cut and dried with our definition, though. For instance, we're not going to Vernon, even though it's the smallest incorporated city in California with a population of 114. Since it's five miles south of Los Angeles, it's sure not rural. And we are going to Ukiah, which has a population of over 15,000 -- not small by many standards, but it's no Metropolis either, and rural certainly seems to describe it better than urban.

So feel free to join us as we take some country roads to the places we belong ... in church... almost every Sunday... with Bible, notebooks and cameras in hand.

(a warning: May has five Sundays and one of those, by necessity, will be in a not very small town. But we'll still be in church.)
-- Dean