My first fulltime appointment as a United Methodist pastor was in Rhinebeck, New York. Actually, I had one church in the village of Rhinebeck, and another one on Route 9 south of the village. That second one was called Hillside United Methodist Church--and the name was perfectly appropriate, because it indeed was on the side of the hill. It was a beautiful little chapel, with seating for maybe 30 people if all of the seats were filled. We probably averaged 15 on a typical Sunday morning, and many warm summer Sundays, or snowy winter Sundays, had less than that. I will confess--we always added the stuffed animal who sat on the windowsill to the attendance, so maybe it was really an average of 14.
It really was a beautiful little place, in an almost idyllic setting, surrounded by old, venerable trees, but clearly visible from the road going both north and south on Route 9, and in a flat stretch so that going either way you got a long look at it. I would run into people in the village, and when they would find out that I was the pastor there they would almost always say "I love that little Hillside Chapel!" I would smile and agree that it was beautiful and picturesque.
But I would be thinking to myself "So you love it? I've never seen you there. What does your love consist of? Do you really, truthfully LOVE that Hillside Chapel?" I never said that to anyone. But I thought it--and I still think it.