I am still feeling the joyful effects of an amazing week-end. We were very blessed and thankful to be invited to a reunion of Cornerstone Church of Chester, PA on Saturday. Cornerstone was the first Sovereign Grace (then PDI) church we were a part of after moving back to Delaware in 1999. Although we were only there for 8 months and the church was later closed, we have always looked back on our time there as very important. Cornerstone was probably our first experience being part of a healthy New Testament kind of church, and I think it will always strongly influence our idea of what church should be like.
To give an idea of what made Cornerstone so extraordinary, I guess I would begin by telling you what did not make it extraordinary. The worship team did not have their own cd's out, the people were not rich or dressed in impressive styles, the pastor did not have his own radio show or books published, and there was no atrium or Starbucks. The thing about Cornerstone was you were enveloped in love the moment you walked in. It didn't matter who you were or where you came from, you belonged at Cornerstone.
When we arrived at the Hunter's house on Saturday afternoon, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Although we have seen a few of the families frequently at Covenant Fellowship, there many that we had not seen for a few years, or not at all since we left almost 7 years ago. There was a very good turn out and I was happy to see so many people I loved and missed so much. There was food of course, lots of catching up, children who had grown so much they were difficult to recognize, and babies who never had the chance to be part of Cornerstone. But it seemed like everyone was still waiting for something.
Finally Arie and Marilyn Mangrum walked in the door, everyone came alive with joy and excitement. Ever our beloved pastor, he eventually led us into a time of fellowship, each of us giving an account of all that God has been doing since our time at Cornerstone. Marriages have continued to grow, we have all moved on to be part of other churches and ministries, and long awaited answers to prayers have been answered. We all had much to thank God for. And yet there was a bitter-sweet sense that none of us had yet met with anything that compared to what we enjoyed together when were a church. We worshipped together, singing "Haven't You Been Good", and prayed for each other and enjoyed the presence of the Holy Spirit just like old times. And we stayed later than we should, considering it to be the best anniversary gift in the world just to be with these people. To us, in the midst of a difficult time, it was an incredible expression of God's love for us and a taste of what we've been promised one day in heaven. We left feeling more encouraged and in faith than we have been in a long time.
The next day we drove down to Joppa, MD to hear Arie preach at Chesapeake Community Church where he is now on staff. We were very happy to be able to impose ourselves on them for the whole day, but I'm leaving that to a future post (probably to be titled something like: "A Tribute to Arie and Marilyn Mangrum, Two of the Greatest People on Earth",or some other such title likely to horrify them!) So I end for now, very grateful for our God who always takes care of us, and lavishes us with grace and mercy beyond our greatest imaginations.