Saturday, August 30, 2008

Newspaper column

For the first time in my life, I've been attending church on occasion.

As a child, religion wasn't really on my radar. Some of my friends would talk about going to Sunday school or attending Mass with their families, but I didn't understand any of it until I found myself tagging along once after a sleepover.

I remember it vividly. I was in the fourth grade and it was the morning after my friend Carrie's birthday party. Somehow my parents had miscommunicated about which of them was supposed to pick me up, so I sat waiting on my sleeping bag near the door much longer than anyone had intended.

There I was wearing last night's T-shirt, complete with a gigantic smudge of hot fudge, being told I would have to go to church with Carrie's family. Thankfully I was able to borrow a clean shirt, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a pew wondering what the heck was going on around me.

I didn't mind the singing so much, but it seemed too whisper quiet the rest of the time. Eventually, Carrie let me know that she would be going to the front to get some bread. Curious, I asked her to bring it back so I could see what it looked like.

"You can't have any or you'll go to hell," she told me.

Needless to say, a statement like that sort of sticks with a kid. For a long time I associated church with someplace I didn't want to be.

Then I met my husband.

We clicked right from the beginning. Within a few months, I had watched more football than I had in my entire life combined, and he found himself sitting through a new episode of "Sex and the City" every weekend. We wanted to be together so much that we took up each other's interests.

For me, that also included attending church with his family on holidays.

Much to my relief, it wasn't anything like my first experience. Even though I felt out of my element, there was something inviting and personal about it.

Now, years later, with a wedding behind us and a child between us, we're making an effort as a family to attend more regularly on our daughter's behalf.

But even though I've grown accustomed to the Sunday sermons and don't feel quite so out of place, the rituals sometimes still throw me for a loop.

Last week was my first time attending a communal service. And when the plate came around, I panicked. Suddenly I reverted to that little girl in a borrowed T-shirt thinking that I was unworthy of participating. Or somehow not allowed.

So I politely declined.

In retrospect, it probably sounded a lot like, “No thank you, I don’t much care for peas.”

The strange thing is, I consider myself to be a very confident, outgoing person who feels comfortable in almost any setting. I'm just at ease in a baseball stadium screaming to get a hot dog vendor's attention as I am being introduced to a governor at a black-tie event -- a situation I found myself in after landing my first reporting job.

So I know it's all in my head. The pastor and the congregation has been nothing but genuinely accepting of me. I guess it's just going to take a little more time before I'm truly comfortable.

But I have faith that it will happen eventually.

11 comments:

the plainsman said...

Interesting column and subject. Irrespective of the demonination or even the religion itself, the experience exposes one to a greater understanding of our culture and recognition that there are forces out there that impact on our lives larger than our own. Religion gives us a helpful way of understanding and coping. A big plus is the power of a coperative effort of charity towards those less fortunate, which most religions encompass, all good things for Allison to understand and participate in as she grows.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

grace said...

when u say when the plate came around, do u mean the bread?

i know for communion, usually u don't take a piece of the bread unless u've been baptized...

anyway kelly, too bad your first service wasn't in a children's service, they are definitely more fun and understanding for kids about the whole purpose of the sermon... but i guess that's something u can put allie in the future if that is something u want her to be involved with..

anyways have a great long weekend indeed :)

Ray said...

I'm glad that you have faith. And I hope church becomes easier for you to go to, the more you go. Also "Grace" is right in order to eat the bread (the body of christ) you have to be baptised.

It's always nice for someone to be baptised, but of course in my opinion it's not something you do just to be like everyone else. You do it because you want to. Because you feel the time is right. You'll know when the time is right for you I guess.

Take, care.

Candi said...

If you're interested in learning about communion, you can always read up on it. I am almost certain it's 1st Corinthians chapter 11 (www.bibleontheweb.com).

I heart my church.

Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

church has always been a part of my life. recently however i sit in church and feel like something is wrong. there is good but at the same time i hear a lot of stuff i cannot agree with. the older i've gotten the harder i find myself accepting the church's ways. i'm not a rebel or an evil person... i'm just really fair. some of the stuff i've been taught as a young kid in the church is just plain stupid. i can say this now without feeling bad. without feeling like i'm missing something.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on your religion as to when you can receive communion. For Catholics you have to make your "First Holy Communion" (which happens in second grade). Anyway, I am Catholic I don't agree with absolutely all of their teachings and I'm sure I'm not supposed to admit that either...is it getting hot in here??? I just think that if you are a good person overall and try to do the right thing and WWJD I'll be good to go. There, now I can climb off of my soapbox. Have a great day!

Meg said...

As others have mentioned, in the Catholic Church you have to have received the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion in the Catholic Church in order to take communion every Sunday.

In Protestant churches, however, they often invite all believers in Christ to partake in communion, regardless of denomination.

I'm not directing this statement at you, Kelly, to tell you whether you should or should not take communion. That's a choice that you must make with your own conscience and heart. I'm just trying to provide clarification to previous comments that were made to this post.

I'm glad you are finding church to be a more positive experience, and I hope you continue to feel welcomed! : )

leogoddess59 said...

Organized religion is highly over rated. Just my opinion.

ajandmac said...

ha...

yes...

church on the holidays when i was a kid...

sometimes the rituals still feel weird to me...

well... all of the time actually, but... there are certain parts that have grown on me... like the people and friendships. aaaaaaaand the messages that remind me that there is more to life...

you are right, it is a process. or at least, it has been for me.

ajandmac said...

ps - im glad you're going, and being open-minded to this type of thing, but don't let the freaky Christians scare you. they like to think they're right about everything, and that their life is the model life... but it's not. who you are is great.

ajandmac said...

pss - i leave too many comments --

taking communion is a personal choice, you don't need to have anything or do anything to do it...

i've never been baptised, but i believe in Christ and the things he said and did.... therefore, i eat the freakin bread. :)