Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why (or why not) church?

Dear God,

Last Sunday during adult education, we talked about why people go to church, or why they don't.  It was interesting to hear perceptions on why people choose whether or not to go.  I said that one reason I go is because, during the most difficult parts of my life, it (church) has somehow been the most help.  But it's more than that. 

It's interesting to hear people talk about youth in church, especially confirmation, and some people think we should require more to be confirmed - "it's too easy."  I think why?  Sometimes, if it is so much work, will all those teens really want to keep coming back when they are done?  I don't know.

When I was a teen, I saw my friends who were part of the same (big) church.  They did a lot together - it seemed exciting.  So God, given that my grandfather was a minister, why didn't I get that?  My friends went through a lot for confirmation and I didn't.  I read a book, with my brother, and then we talked with the minister about it.  It was a book for adults, with 3 main sections - the 2 Creeds and the Lord's Prayer.  It didn't make sense to me and I would fall asleep reading.  My brother had great conversations with the minister about it.  Occasionally my opinion (which I didn't have, because I didn't understand the book) was asked and that was it.  And God, while I'm at it here, I really feel like if I hadn't pushed it, if I hadn't asked to be confirmed, nothing would have happened.  And for me, confirmation was just about being able to receive communion.  That's why I let my daughter receive communion when she expressed interest.  This is somewhat of a tangent.  But God, given this history of not a lot being required to be confirmed, you'd think church wouldn't be important to me.  But it was (and is).  My godparents came to my confirmation and that was so important to me.  And then I continued to be religious throughout high school, whether or not my family went to church or not.  So God, since everyone seems to have someone who influenced their faith life perhaps at this stage, what was happening to me?  It really confuses me, and in a strange way, I suppose I'm a bit angry that I can't say, "Why yes!  It was this person who really influenced my faith and is why I go to church today."  There's really nothing other than me wanting to see my grandfather's Bible, knowing he baptized me, etc.  There was intrigue there.

Then people talk about after confirmation as the time young adults leave church, and I'm thinking about college.  They also talk about people in their 20s and why they don't go to church, in general.  Again, I'm unique. I went to college where almost no one went to church, but I went most weeks, with this background of...  not much.  When I was diagnosed with MS, one of my first thoughts out of nowhere was wanting to meet with the minister on campus.  With the church secretary, the three of us prayed together in the basement of the church and I felt this strange presence of something.  Was that you, God?  Even when I went to church growing up, we never learned that there might be this strange sense somedayI didn't grow up with the background of God having an actual presence; in fact, I grew up in an environment where that wasn't a thought.  I then went to church more often because it seemed natural.  I did a bible study at the minister's house, and watched his small farm when his family went on vacation.

I moved to Minnesota and went to a church there, in my 20s.  No one really seemed to pay attention to someone in their 20s in church, and when I moved back to Colorado and started "church shopping," I found the same thing - no one noticed me - and that didn't bother me because I was looking at many different churches.  At one church, people waved their hands in the air, seemed to make a political statement, and I was gone.  At another small church, I darted out right after communion because it seemed small.  I wanted to find a place where there was a group of people my age.  I didn't find such a place.  I asked at one church and was told I was actually too young - their singles group was people in their 30s.  Then I found the church where I currently go.  I don't remember anyone meeting me there either.  I went to the new member orientation once, then stopped, and then came back a few months later.  And now I go every week.

So God, why church?  Over time, the church where I go has become like family.  Some people there annoy me - you don't pick your family - but most people are awesome.  If I don't go to church, things just don't seem quite right.  When I don't want to go because something bad is going on in my life, it never fails that church comes and turns things around.  Why, God?  That doesn't make any sense.

So I now go to church every week with my daughter.  I do other things with the church.  I can't imagine no church - seems there would be a great void.

Why church?  I don't know.  It's confusing, God, how it happened that I go to church regularly.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to sort out why I became a person who goes to church every week.



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