I originally wrote this piece three years ago. Jesse and I were engaged at the time. I thought back to this day because last Sunday, at C3 we held our annual “Covenant Sunday” worship service. The elders at C3 like to have a clean member roll so they know better how to serve those who choose to member with this Commerce church.
I like that idea. When we Covenant together as a church it means we tell each other we’ll be there for each other through thick and thin. It means we strive together for the good of each other, and for the glory of Christ, being generous with our time and money, loving and serving not only those in the church, but also those in our neighborhood, coworkers, and cashiers and clerks at the stores we go to and at the restaurants we eat.
With that in mind, here is the column from three years ago, and the day I knew this church would love and serve Jesse so well.
Something was clearly wrong when Jesse struggled to stand after the worship service on Sunday.
She was out of breath, overheated, and exhausted. It seems exhaustion, like a virus, has infected nearly everyone I know. I had proved no more immune. Now it came for Jesse.
We hold a yearly covenant membership service the first weekend of March. We also celebrate the Lord’s Supper the first of each month. The room, already warmer than usual, approached near sauna levels from the amount of people gathered. The perfect storm for someone who was exhausted and dehydrated.
Mom, who came for Jesse’s bridal service later that day and who has been a nurse for years, looked at Jesse and immediately told us to get her to the ER to get an IV going for her.
Doctors diagnosed Jesse with FSH Muscular Dystrophy her eighth grade year (she learned recently it is Selenon Related Myopathy). It affects her walking, energy levels, and appetite. She also suffers from a resulting restrictive lung disease, which hinders her breathing.
Instead of taking her to the bridal shower to celebrate her soon becoming Mrs. Hamrick, I rushed my suffering bride-to-be through the cold streets of Commerce to the Emergency Room just outside the city.
The doctor saw the same signs Mom did and hooked her up to an IV. She felt relief immediately.
We heard a knock, followed by Abby’s head peeking in. Abby and her husband Eric, friends of ours, also came for the service and shower. Abby is one of Jesse’s best friends and our matchmaker. She came to check on her friend.
I was a nervous wreck. Or train wreck. My mother’s affectionate moniker for me, “Worry-Wart,” has stuck since my formative years and been earned ever since. I oscillated between holding Jesse’s hand as I stood near the bed, to sitting at the side of her bed. She was in obvious pain, but smiling.
Jesse cares. She told Abby how sorry she was about missing her own shower. She didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. Jesse thinks of others more than herself. All the time.
A call came while Jesse and Abby spoke. It was my pastor, David. His sermon that morning was from Romans: we are one body with many members.
I relayed what David told me over the phone to Jesse: this bridal shower is for you. We don’t care when it starts, just that you are okay. She was cheerfully forbidden from feeling bad for missing her shower. Another knock. Tim, one of our elders, was there to check on us.
Tim stayed and listened with us as nurses and a doctor came to take Jesse through the gamut of tests to rule anything and everything else out. They were thorough and attentive. Mere thanks are not enough for what they do.
Now somewhat comforted, nerves began to settle, and we felt that most exquisite of feelings: we were hungry. Tim offered to pick up food one of the other elder’s wives, Patti, had made for the shower. He returned in record time with two aluminum foil-encased plates filled to the brim with chicken and pasta salads, grapes, a roll, and a croissant. Just what the doctor ordered.
Thankfully, the tests revealed everything was normal. Slight high blood pressure, but that subsided the longer the IV was in.
It was around 4:30 p.m. by the time we checked out and got Jesse to my apartment; too late to start the shower at our host’s. But not too late for a few of the ladies to take the shower to us.
Jesse rested on the couch and watched as ladies from church dropped off gifts. We opened them and were overwhelmed by their generosity.
Because Jesse had overworked herself planning for the wedding, Tim’s wife Emily sent a message to offer help with wedding planning in any way possible.
By day’s end, when I knew she would be OK, knowing I could sit and rest, I considered the events that transpired and the people who went out of their way to help.
On Covenant Sunday.
To live faithfully, proclaim the gospel unashamedly, and love each other sacrificially — such were the affirmations made that morning; such were the actions that followed in the day’s remainder.
To call this church a home is a blessing beyond my poor words to describe.
Stories like mine are as old as the Book of Acts. They shared everything they had. And great grace was upon them all. Paul’s May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with us all evermore was said to a church. The fulness of him that fills all in all was said, extraordinarily, of the church.
Christ never wanted believers to go it alone. In his wisdom, he gave us his Spirit, his word, and his church. His example, when he washed the disciple’s feet, and his precept, “love one another,” were given at the same time, so the church would know just what “love one another” looks like.
He shows us still.
Joseph Hamrick is a semi-professional writer and sometimes thinker. He lives in Commerce and serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org