Growing up Lutheran, I recall that blue flannel board propped up on scratchy brown carpet. Every week, a gentle woman in a floor-length skirt would read from a tall book and put the characters on the board. She taught us about Adam and Eve, about Noah and the Ark, and my favorite, Moses and the burning bush. A bush that is on fire but doesn’t burn? That is some wild and mysterious stuff for any age listener.
Church was glorious. It was where I decided I would play the piano, so I could move those pedals and make all that wonderful noise that made people sing together. It was where I learned how to sing harmony and army crawl under the pews. There were cheerios my mom would pull out of her purse when the sermon got long, and my dad’s lap for a quick nap. Church was mysterious. There was an altar which I never touched, with its golden Bible, candle, plates of communion, and velvet coverings. So much of my faith built up by observation before anyone ever told me to do, be, or say anything.
Church was fellowship. There were bars and donuts laid out on frosted plastic trays, and plenty of bubbling coffee in the tin percolator. I would smash as many bars into my mouth as possible and then chase after the “naughty kids” who ran through the sanctuary playing tag over and under the pews. Eventually, the fun was squashed when an elder or deacon would shoo us out of the sanctuary and back to the loving arms of our parents.
As I trace back my history and upbringing, I call back these memories that helped frame up the woman I would become. There was plenty of dark and discouraging, as there was light and life-giving.
What frames up your thoughts on church?
What still lingers in your habits that you learned as a child or teen?
As we move through this pandemic, dreaming of a time we gather together, we have not forgotten what it was like to go to church. Our singing together, eating donuts together, laughing together, taking communion together, in a shared space has stopped. But, we the church hold on to hope for what our community is and will be. We, the church, have become creative and flexible, learning and growing in our faith every day. We, the church, are love, mystery, and glory as we move in and through our days.
We, the church, are alive.