I confess I have a speckled lineage when it comes to my church experience. Personally, I don’t believe God cares what denomination, if any, we attach ourselves to as long as it remains true to Biblical teaching. I think we can gather richness from each one, I know I have. However we dress it up or perform the ceremony what remains is God and His word. He alone knows the heart of a church.
I have been Baptist, Episcopalian for a short time, Assembly of God, Methodist through my Grandfather, and Non-denominational. From each one I carry memories with me that have enriched my faith. In each one I have experienced God’s grace. I have seen prayers answered, God’s love flowing through people. I have seen the Holy Spirit change lives and do things not humanly possible.
I remember….magical paper sacks that we received after every Christmas pageant. I remember quaking on stage, trying to remember my one line from the Bethlehem scene. I think one time I actually cried and ran off stage….but after, we received a paper sack that held the same things every year; peanuts in the shell, buried within a hershey bar, and a roll of five flavor lifesavers, and an orange. I was always scared they would run out before they got to me. A walk down the aisle to start my journey with Christ…..Seeing my Pastor in rubber waders at my Baptism, warm water swirling around my white baptism clothes, giving the confession of faith; never to be the same again. Strong biblical teaching from a pastor who loved digging into meanings of Greek and Hebrew. So many joyful hours of choir practice, where my Aunt and I sang on the Alto end.
I remember ice-cream socials on summer evenings in the Methodist church yard, all cakes made from scratch, with a man dipping ice-cream at the end of the line. The beautiful marbled sanctuary…they knew how to make a church look like a church in those days.
I remember beautiful liturgy at St. John’s Episcopal, learning when to sit and stand, knees creaking. The flip of the kneeler in the silence. People there who helped each other out after hours. I remember a spirit of love in the social hall after service when I saw Fr. Ray dancing with a child one day. The tradition of the flowering of the cross at Easter, the Sacrifice giving way to the fragance of beauty and conquered death once and for all.
I remember prayer times, tears, laughter, and meeting wonderful people who loved God. Meeting God at the altar, prayers answered, hands lifted high, tears of communion. Learning about the gifts of the Spirit….(still have my notes) All of these precious times, a bit of Heaven on earth. A foretaste of glory to come….
Church; it’s not perfect because it is made up of people. But it’s God’s church and still a place where you can find grace, forgiveness, and love.
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 27:4