Posted by: karanoel | April 16, 2020

A church of everybodies

This was another writing assignment that I thought I would share. (Sorry about the roosters and construction in the background of the audio version!)

In 1973, the year I was born, my parents, then only in their 20’s, started a humble, unbuttoned Bible study in the Los Angeles home of a musician friend. With a focus on relationship with a loving God and an earnest welcome to “come as you are,” people of all kinds were drawn to this small group that would become a church of hundreds and, eventually, hundreds of churches. 

There was no hype or advertising. Just people inviting other people who were dissatisfied with the “free love” the world offered and who often, in response to the invitation, found fulfillment in the extravagant love of Jesus which, though free to receive, was costly to give. In turn, they invited others who experienced the same. People were transformed to such a degree that several decades after the fact, more than I can count are still offering up their heartfelt gratitude for what my parents imparted during that unique time. But what I remember most as a young girl was the fun and friendship that surrounded me.

It was a creative community, full of actors, musicians and artists – many well-known – who contributed to the plays, musicals and other vibrant expressions of the gospel that were common in this life-giving version of L.A’s culture; a church simply called “The Vineyard.” There were other people of fame or influence in their own fields, but also so many others who would be recognized nowhere else, but felt known and valued there. It was a rare sort of environment where the nobodies blended seamlessly with the somebodies, creating a place of belonging for everybody

One year, when the church had lost its building, the obvious solution was to move the services onto the beach. It was distracting but glorious. The seagulls cried, families played, surfers rode waves while our unconventional congregation gathered together to sing worship songs, listen to a short, impactful message given by my dad, and linger to talk and laugh on the sand before the gleaming ocean. Some passersby were drawn out of curiosity and then moved on. Some stayed and became part of the family.

Scan 5

Because that’s really what church is supposed to be: A family. Brothers and sisters, not of blood, but of Spirit; a tie so close that it lasts through this life with all the joys and beatings it can give, and then right on into eternity. It’s then, after the end of my life, that I anticipate experiencing in full what I only tasted at the beginning: A joyful, loving community full of music, beauty and laughter, where all the somebodies and all the nobodies, each known and deeply valued, join their voices in the chorus of creation; where everybody knows they are right where they belong: Together.

2015_06_06_20_14_030001_010

2015_06_06_20_10_390001_006

Baptisms

IMG_2081

Still friends all these years later

If you have a few minutes, give this beautiful song a listen – a duet by Marty Goetz and Debby Boone, both part of that original church, at my dad’s 70th birthday.


Responses

  1. GRAND SLAM HOME RUN! YOU GOT ME TEARY AT THE FIRST PICTURE AND SOBBING AT THE END! THANK YOU. I NEED TO FIND AND GATHER ALL THE PHOTOS FROM OVER THE YEARS.

    On Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 10:53 AM where waves grow sweet wrote:

    > karanoel posted: “This was another writing assignment that I thought I > would share. (Sorry about the roosters and construction in the background > of the audio version!) In 1973, the year I was born, my parents, then only > in their 20’s, started a humble, unbuttoned Bible ” >

    • Thanks dad! I know there are so many great pictures – these were just the ones I had from your birthday slideshow. I listened to Marty and Debby several times today. What an amazing gift!

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  2. Karanoel, I enjoyed the journey with you as I read. What a blessing, and thanks for sharing ♥

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Jacquie!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: