Sunday, May 9, 2010
A Sunday Past
Recently I was sitting in church and just enjoying the ambiance. I like church, I like the quiet moments beforehand, the music and the sermon. I feel being in church grounds me, gives me focus and fuels me for the upcoming week. While I was sitting there I started to think of why I liked church so much.
It dawned on me that one of the reasons I enjoyed church so much is the fantastic memories it held. When I was a kid I went to church with my grandparents, it was a small church hardly any members really a handful or two of families but it had a great Sunday school program and an even better vacation bible school. Every summer they would gather all the neighborhood kids and their friends and have day camp that celebrated Christ through games, songs and stories. And of course Bible verses, usually they held competitions for those who brought the most guests and memorized the most verses.. me being the competitive sort, well....
As I got older I switched to a church my friend recommended, it was fabulous a large congregation with music and great teen programs. This will always be the church of my heart. We had young youth directors and choir directors they got us. Soon church became the complete focus of my Sundays. I would be up for Sunday School at 9:30 and church at 11:00, each age group had their own place to sit. The junior high kids sat up front to the right. Had their own little "in" section I don't think it ever dawned on any of us that we were right there in front for the parents to keep an eye on and the Pastor to was able to make eye contact... hmm sneaky weren't they? As we aged and matured and made it to High School we sat in the balcony. I guess we could be trusted by that point.. who knows? In the evenings we had a 6:00 service that was mellower and more intimate then after church we would attend what we called an afterglow. This was time where we would get together in small groups usually by age and interact, sometimes they involved bible study and others we went to Polly's for Pie. It was just a way to spend more time together. To soak energize us for the week ahead.
I have such great memories of that church, I laugh because until I was 16 if I couldn't get a ride my parents would drive me and drop me off. Now you would think this would not be such a huge chore but well.. Sunday service was supposed to get out at noon, needless to say it NEVER did. Pastor would go on and then we would have an alter call, then of course we had to chat. I rarely got out of there before 12:45 1:00. This drove my dad absolutely nuts. Every time he would pick me up he would go on and on about wasting his time and buying the pastor a watch. To this day I swear one of the happiest days of my Dad's life was when I got my license and was able to drive myself to and from church. I don't think he ever minded handing me those car keys.. At least not on Sundays..
We had this fabulous youth choir that went on yearly trips, we went to the Navajo reservation one year, toured the East Coast one summer and the West the next and finally ended up in Hawaii. Now me being me I was very active. I loved everything about this place and these people but my favorite memory came years later. When I had moved to the Midwest and had come home for a visit. I went to church on Sunday Morning and sat in a pew. Of course I was a visitor then and hadn't been there for Over 10 years. It turns out the woman I sat next to recognized me, it was the Pastor's wife. She told me please make sure I stayed around because she was sure Pastor would want to say hello. That totally surprised me as I was never anyone special. We had a large congregation, my parents weren't active.. all I had ever been was another teenager to pass through those doors. No matter, when the alter call came I slipped out to get my kids then I was going to come back to the main Sanctuary when Pastor was free. Before I could get to children's section I heard my name being called and there was Pastor running through the halls of the church, making sure I didn't leave before he said hello. I don't think I ever told him how special he made me feel. How precious I felt.. Like I said I was no one special, just a girl who went to that church and yet both the pastor and his wife remembered me enough to want to say hello and welcome home.
I think that cemented my feelings about the importance of church in my life. I know I didn't attend for a few years and believe me I was not a happy camper. I felt hollow and left out. It is really nice to know after all these years I have found a place that gives me that same feeling. That place of peace and rejuvenation. I believe one can worship God anywhere and one should but church is a place of fellowship and community. A place where we can rest our weary souls and lean upon others. I think the number one failing people have with church is that they don't find the right place, the right group of people to interact with. I remember Pastor welcoming visitors to our church and saying "now if you don't feel comfortable here, don't stop coming to church, I have the numbers for the Baptist and Lutheran churches just down the block and I can get you any other one you want." To me that said, we are here to worship God and offer fellowship not win a popularity contest. I don't know why but that always made me feel at home.
I have no clue as to why I wanted to write this on Mother's day but there you have it....
Happy Mothers Day all you Moms out there