Diving In

June 27, 2009 | 15 comments

“I have created you and cared for you since you were born.
I will be your God through all your lifetime.
Yes, even when your hair is white with age. …”
— Isaiah 46:3-4

Longville, Minn. — Fred described his church family this way: “We’ve all got gray hair,” he chuckled, “or no hair at all.”

If that sounds like the sort of place you’d avoid on a Sunday morning, well, you’ve never been to Longville Community Church.

That’s where I found myself last Sunday morning, under the A-frame roof of a packed church next to the hardware store in tiny Longville, Minnesota. It didn’t take long to figure out this place isn’t “just” a church. It’s a vibrant gathering of Christ’s Love-Body (a term I borrow from Ann Voskamp).

Away from our own church last Sunday, our vacationing family went here — enfolded in the larger Love-Body that crosses manmade boundaries. We found our place in a wooden pew about halfway up on the right side.

The pastor opened with Scripture, then turned things over to the 20-some folks in navy and burgundy robes.

And that’s when the place erupted in praise, led by a choir with members as old as 93. They belted out “Great Morning” (which it was) and “Get All Excited” (which they were).

These worshippers were born before WWII. They remember Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust. They recall the Great Depression. And they live like they remember it, never spending more than they have, making good on promises, and relying on God to provide.

They’ve had lots of babies; buried some, too. They’ve mothered children through the 1960s. (And we thought we had it rough in 2009.) They’ve sent boys off to Vietnam.

Many of them have fought in war themselves, discovering faith in foxholes and on front lines.

Along life’s crooked path, they’ve discerned God’s enduring faithfulness. They’ve come out on the other side to sing — with eyes closed and bodies swaying — that “The Gospel Train is a’Coming.”


Now, I don’t want to sound age-ist here. I don’t mean to suggest that these are a bunch of old geezers with unusual energy.

I’m not comparing them to others their age. I’m comparing them to me.

I’m half their age, but they had twice my energy. I so often view my life by circumstances, but get the feeling they look at theirs through the prism of eternity.

One of the soloists in the choir had a stent put in a few days earlier — but still sang. The gray-haired saxophonist was diagnosed with leukemia last year — but still played. The room was full of bad knees, new knees, aching backs and replaced hips — and a woman in a wheelchair equipped with a squeaky bike horn. “We’ve got to have more fun in this life,” she told me later, and gave the horn a squeeze.

If anyone had reason to be tired on a Sunday morning, it was this group. But they weren’t tired. They were doing some John 10:10 living on this side of Heaven.


A week later, I sit here at my keyboard, and tears still well in my eyes when I remember my hour in a little Longville church. It could have been a scene for the movie “Cocoon.” In the movie, a group of guys from a retirement home find a swimming pool filled with alien cocoons. The pool is brimming with a lifegiving force. They take a dive and emerge with renewed energy, making them the envy of their friends.

At the Longville church, you get the idea that the folks here have been diving into some refreshing water. And I guess you could say they have been.

They’ve been swimming in Living Water.

It washed over me last Sunday.

And I’m headed back for another “swim” in August.

“Whoever believes in me, … streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38


As you contemplate worship this weekend, may I suggest a post over at my friend Billy’s place? He wrote a brilliant piece earlier this month on the difference between singing … and SINGING.

by | June 27, 2009 | 15 comments


  1. Carol

    That's gonna be me, "I will sing praises to God as long as I have breath"….and hopefully, beyond when I join the heavenly chorus. Off to sing at a wedding today! Have a wonderful weekend, friend! Do you have your coffee cup? I have mine!

  2. Lyla Lindquist

    Wonderful. Promise we don't ever decide we're too old to worship hard.

  3. Runner Mom

    Hey,Jennifer! This was great! Swimming in Living water! We could all benefit from a few laps in that Holy pool. So glad that you listened to the Holy Spirit and attended that church last week! Sounds like a great place. Thanks for sharing!!


  4. RCUBEs

    It reminded me how my dad, despite being weak and frail from having cancer, was so full of life and joy even though he was there laying on his bed. He would give encouraging spiritual advices to those who would come and visit him. They were crying when they first walked into his room, upon seeing his physical condition, yet they left crying with tears of happiness with whatever they heard him shared with them. With weak arms, he was able to hug; able to paint a smile on his face; able to blow a kiss to greet anyone; able to speak about the Lord's goodness to him. Thanks be to God for the life-giving Spirit He bestows on every believer.
    "For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death." -Romans 8:2

  5. Beth E.

    Sounds like a wonderful church…and a wonderful group of brothers and sisters in Christ!

    Thanks for sharing…

  6. Deb

    These believers have many aches and pains and have experienced heartbreaks along their journey. But they worship anyway from a "prism of eternity."

    I want to worship like that.

  7. Tabitha@ichoosebliss

    This was so beautiful. I could picture the church and I was not there, yet I smile.

  8. Mama D.

    This Blog is near and dear to our hearts as we are part of the Love-Body bodies that were in that sanctuary that Sunday morning..Nice terminolgy(thanks to your blogging friend)

    Glad you were there to experience too.

  9. lynnrush

    This was great. Love it. Thanks, Jennifer.

  10. christy rose

    I felt like I was there too! What a great place of worship,

  11. Pfeiffer Photos

    Love this–made me feel happy today, thank you! I forwarded it to three people I think will enjoy it, too. 🙂

  12. Alleluiabelle

    Hi My Friend,

    I wish I could have been there with you, but your writing made me feel as if I was. What an amazing experience and testimony to all of us. Here I sit with an aching body this night typing at the keys, but I have to tell you, I'm SINGING AND PRAISING LOUDLY TOO! It's the only way to live through this life despite the difficulties. His grace is sufficient enough for me.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful time with us. I'm ready to BELT OUT in song right now, but I would wake every one up…

    Love you,

  13. bluecottonmemory

    A dear friend told me a few years ago, "We so need to be needed." She could have been in your cocoon group because of her age. Too many people dismiss these beautiful, spirit-filled older people and miss a truly blessed experience.I discuss this in my blog: http://bluecottonmemory.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/84/

    What a beautiful experience you had:)

  14. Jennifer

    Carol — You got that right. No coffee now, though, I've moved on to iced tea.

    Lyla — Absolutely. We can do synchronized wheelchair dances to the Newsboys or something. 🙂

    Runner Mom — Amen, sister.

    RCUBEs — Wow. What a testimony of faith from your father. That explains a lot about you, by the way.

    Beth E — It was a great group. Still drinking it in…

    Deb — Me, too.

    Hi Tabitha! Welcome to the neighborhood. Nice to see you here. Will stop by and say hello over at your place, too.

    Mama D — Can't wait to go back with you in August!

    Thanks Lynn, Christy Rose and Pfieffer Photos! I always appreciate your comments.

    Alleluiabelle — You are a great example of living a life of worship, even through suffering. God bless you!

    bluecottonmemory — Thanks for dropping by again. I'll be over to check out that post of yours soon.

  15. Prairie Chick

    Awesome. Just love it. who wants to dip their toes in life giving water when you can be fully immersed?! It's the canonball for me!


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