Once upon a time, Goldilocks decided she should finally go to church. It had been a long time since the Three-Bears family invited her. But that was just one of the ways they had been so gracious about that whole breaking-and-entering and vandalism thing, so she was a little embarrassed that she hadn’t gone sooner.
When Goldilocks arrived at First Church of the Forest, the gatekeeper smiled and handed her some paperwork about their church’s services and history. She walked in, down, then back up the center aisle. She asked the man guarding the door if there were other service times, and he asked if she were looking for someone in particular. When she told him, he said, “Oh, the Three-Bears. We loved having them here. But they decided that this wasn’t quite the church for them. We don’t have the kind of ministry they wanted for Baby Bear. In fact, when they insisted, we tried. Papa Bear was very comfortable on one of our hard wooden pews in the back, with Mama Bear saying the padded chair on the end next to it was ‘Just right!’ But when they put Baby Bear in our crib, it broke all to pieces under him.”
Goldilocks nodded sheepishly. “I understand something like that can be quite embarrassing,” she said.
“Last I heard,” said the guard, “they were attending at Creekside.”
Creekside Community Church was a short walk away, but Goldilocks was equally unsuccessful in her search there. The usher there walked her toward a place to sit, but then he noticed Goldilocks looking around. He, too, asked if she were looking for someone, and she told him. He replied, “The Three-Bears? Yes, they attended here for awhile. I must say, they were very active in our fellowship. But they decided this wasn’t quite the church for them. You see, we can’t monitor everything our families bring for refreshments or potlucks. It really seemed that they were going to settle down here. Papa Bear especially enjoyed the music, and Baby Bear thought our Children’s Church services were ‘Just right!’ But Mama Bear found that we couldn’t promise here that everything our folks baked was prepared in all organic and gluten-free kitchens, and, well…several of the women were very sad about how that discussion turned out.” The usher looked away sadly, and then he said, “But I think they’re still attending down at The Meadows.”
Goldilocks looked at her watch and hurried downstream toward The Meadows. The hostess at the door greeted her and asked if this were her first time joining them. Goldilocks said that it was, and that she was trying to track down the Three-Bears family. The hostess’s smile stayed, but the light in her eyes seemed to dim a little as she said, “You know, it’s rare that a family finds much here to be disgruntled about. In fact, it’s such a minor thing, I would have thought it could have been talked through. You know, nothing should prevent people from fellowshipping together. But they only came a few times. I think Baby Bear was glad to have all the attention from our older women. Mama Bear told me how she thought the young mothers’ group was ‘Just right!’ But even though we kept explaining that we’re an open fellowship that respects everyone’s questions, Papa Bear seemed adamant about getting answers. But that’s just not what we do here.” When Goldilocks asked if the hostess knew where the Three-Bears were attending now, she told her they were now holding services in their living room.
That’s how Goldilocks came to find them at what she would have called “The Three-Bears’ House-Church.” They were so very glad to see her, and explained how honored they felt that she had come to visit their fellowship. But noticing that it was only the three of them standing there with her in their living room, Goldilocks couldn’t help but ask who else was attending their House-Church. Mama Bear said, “Well, we’ve invited dozens, of course. And occasionally some have come to visit. Usually just once, though. And we don’t mind. None of them really seemed to fit in. But come in, sit down. The floor seems safe enough for you.” Goldilocks politely laughed at the little joke Mama Bear had told, even if it was at Goldilocks’ expense. (In fact, after they had first met, she had become much more careful about where she sat, and how much she ate, and when she chose to take a nap.) But deep down, Goldilocks knew. She didn’t really trust that she could keep the Three-Bears happy with her, even as forgiving as they seemed to be about her past.
In the end, Goldilocks was thankful that she’d finally found the place where her friends were most comfortable. They knew what they believed (that nobody else believed quite like they did) and that they lived it out faithfully (by avoiding any confusion or conflict as they spent their church-time in the comfort of their own home). But for Goldilocks to join them, or anyone else, would probably disrupt their services. So, she started having her own, in the quiet of her room, alone. And Goldilocks told herself (since her congregation of one would always agree totally with any decision she made) that whatever she believed or did would always be “Just right!”