Sunday, November 12, 2006

God knows...

It was homecoming at the church I grew up in on Sunday. They had a brunch with a service afterwards, and my mother signed me up to go. When she asked, I said, "Oh, yeah! I'll come. Sounds nice." Then, my life being what it is, I promptly forgot about it. Saturday rolls around, and Mom gives me the reminder call. Uh oh. Now I have to find appropriate clothing and convince my son that this is a normal thing to do.

We did go to church for a while, at a little mission sort of close to where we used to live. We started because of a rough time within our family and because there was a priest there that we just loved (he'd married my parents and my husband and me). During our tenure there, this priest also baptised our son. Then he left, and the mission found a new priest. We liked him alright, I suppose. Then I started getting these emails from one of the members of the church that were saying some pretty nasty things about homosexuality. This was shortly after a gay bishop was elected, which was the beginning of a schism in the Episcopal church. A lot of parrishes have split over interpretation. Anyway, I was getting these emails and I asked the guy to stop sending them and to remove me from his address book. I explained that I have a gay brother and I didn't appreciate his slurs aimed at people like him. I kept getting emails. So I finally asked the priest to intervene. Being new, he didn't want to offend the older members of the parrish and while he got the guy to stop emailing me, he kind of sided with the guy too because he donated a lot of money to the church.

Well, the whole thing irritated me no end. We stopped going to that church/mission, but there weren't any others nearby and we'd kind of burned out after all that mess, so we didn't go at all. I'd always thought/believed that we ALL belong to God. It doesn't matter what color you are, what your sexual orientation is, how much money you make, where you live, or what your marital status is. And that anyone who is called to serve God in some capacity should be able to do so. And I certainly didn't want the church or anyone else to tell my son that his wonderful uncle was an unforgiveable sinner or that he was going to hell.

Sorry for the speech, but this, in a nutshell, is why we haven't been to church in a few years, and why my son might think this was an odd thing to do.

St. Clement's Camp Weed Cross
This is the chapel I was married in the first time I wed. My parents were the second couple to get married here. I was confirmed at this church, served as an acolyte at this church, and was a part of the youth group here which was integral to my becoming a self-confident young woman. I loved this church and grew up here. So once Mom reminded me of this brunch, I was eager to go and see what faces showed up.

Oh! Wonderful faces! Some a little rounder, some a bit droopier, all of them older. But still so full of happiness at seeing me, meeting my son. Seeing reflections of aquaintences past in their children - oh, my gosh - that kid definitely has Richardson hair!!!! Look at those Jones' eyes. He's going to be as tall as his father... on and on, because THIS was my extended family for so many years and in my memories, they still are. There were lots of smiles and hugs and exclamations at breakfast, but for me the real memories flooded in during the service.

The priest was different. For one thing, he was a she, Mother rather than Father. We went into the big church, and sat in the back row just like we used to. Part of the service was sung, which was beautiful... Mother has a beautiful voice. My father read the lessons, just like he did when I was young. He and Mom are going to a different church now - one closer to them, but they came back for this special day. The two hymns we sang during the service were two of my favorites and I sang right along as if it were yesterday. And the time warp began in earnest during the sermon. I listened, but I also looked around and allowed my mind to roam back over the years.

The "big" church is actually an expansion of the smaller original church. I remember when they did the enlarging and how cold and impersonal it seemed to me. The old church was dark and cozy, while this new version was bright and light and airy. During the building of the new, we explored every inch - every nook and cranny. Up on the wall behind the altar is a gigantic screen. Do the kids who go here now know that there's a crawl space to access behind the screen? That they can go in there and watch everything unobserved by the congregation? Is the old choir loft still used as a makeout spot by the teens today? Oh, and I remembered the youth group putting on a haunted house under the church then going out for pizza still in costume... So many things came back to me. It felt like home.

My son was impressed. He went out with the other youngsters to "kids church" and they all came back just before communion. I asked if he wanted to take communion. He asked what that was, so I reminded him about going up front, kneeling, getting a small piece of bread and a sip of wine... "Oh, YEAH! That was some goooooodddd stuff! Yup, I want to do communion."

So we did.

Coming back from Communion, Z-boy noticed the stained glass windows. After the service, he asked if he could go look at them closer. Puzzled, I said yes. He went over and walked up and down in front of the four windows that depicted the four gospels... Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then he dashed back over to me and said breathlessly, "God KNOWS!!!!"

"God knows what?"

"God knows about Luke Skywalker!!!! But who are Matthew, Mark and John?"

Yes... Gotta get this boy some church.


Anonymous said...

Well Sayre, I scrolled down to look because you mentioned it, and I am so glad that I did!
It sounds like a lovely time.
Love Z-boy and the Skywalker connection!

Anonymous said...

Like Factor 10, I too have scrolled down.
How wonderful to return to the old church. Do you know that is the church of my memories from high school.

I remember the haunted house under the church it was too fun.

love and hugs,

Jeff said...

I also scrolled down after the fact. It is interesting to see the varied relationships people have with church. Interesting, indeed, when comparing it to my own.

Sayre said...

There's awful church and awesome church. I've been "blessed" with both during my lifetime. I'm happy to be back amongst the awesome.