…Isn’t there a country song with a title that goes something like this?
We attend a little country church called Greenbriar Baptist Church. I’ve always liked the name of the church-- I think it’s very fitting, because just about any place around here that you don’t stay ahead of the weeds, the green briars are sure to take.
Not that the church lawn isn’t always neatly mown, mind you, but the briars are near, ready to encroach if given half a chance. I think there’s a spiritual lesson to be learned somewhere in this.
Blackberry briars and wild rose briars run wild around these parts. While they produce beautiful blooms, smells, and fruit, they can quickly multiply to create an impenetrable thicket.
Greenbriar Baptist Church stands near the banks of Middle Fork Creek, close to the spot where my hubby and I were baptized back when we weren’t much more than kids.
It’s nestled in one of the S-curves “at the foot of” Drip Rock Mountain. For those who aren’t familiar with hillbilly speak, that means the church is in a valley, at the base of a mountain.
The little church, attended mostly by humble rural folk, has been a refuge of comfort and strength during this trying period in our lives.
I’ve felt enveloped by the warmth and concern of “my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ” every time we’ve stepped through the front door.
We’re always greeted with firm handshakes from calloused hands with warm smiles and hugs. Nearly everyone asks about the baby. They’ve been praying for him since long before he was born.
I love the fact that hardly anyone feels the need to wear a suit here, and many members show up in their cleanest jeans.
I like that there is no political grandstanding from the pulpit, just reminders to “pray for the leaders of our country.”
I like that we stand around outside after the service and talk about our gardens, or the latest sightings of wildlife in the valleys.
There have been a few black bear sightings around these parts. The least you can do, ya’ know, is to keep your neighbors posted about their whereabouts.
I love that one of the most frequent comments I hear when I go to church is “It’s a purty day, ain’t it?” This comment is usually made with the speaker lifting his or her gaze to scan the familiar hills that hold us.
We share an unspoken bond—a deep love for a place that’s been home to generations of our kinfolk.
We know each other’s stories.
We sing the same hymns that sustained our fathers and mothers during hard times, one of my favorites being, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”
“Backward religious folk” is a label that frequently gets slapped on congregations like these.
We are far from perfect, but “good-hearted simple people who are mighty concerned about their neighbors,” might be a more accurate title.