As most of you know, I’ve been a pretty regular church-goer since gestation. For those few of you who haven’t heard this story, I was nearly born, right there, when my mother decided to spend her early labor tuning a piano instead of going to a hospital. The rest is, as they say, history.
Church was a part of my life that I didn’t spend a lot of time investigating in my early years, because it was just something that We Did, and there were plenty of other kids at church who also Just Did It, so it didn’t feel special that I was here every Sunday.
When I got to high school, the population of my peers thinned out pretty dramatically, but I was also having a four year long nervous breakdown at that point and church was an easy, peaceful excuse to not think about tests, or papers, or GPAs for two hours a week. I think I spent more time nodding off in the pews than I did actually listening, but I desperately needed that sleep, so I like to think that God, and the pastor, will forgive me my negligence.
I attended church the least in college. Partly because I was suddenly at least partially responsible for getting myself there, and partly because my parents were going through a divorce, which made any territory that we’d spent a lot of time in As A Family suddenly a weird space to occupy. We all lapsed a little bit at that time. Marta found a new congregation. Julie was reveling in the freedom of no longer being the choir director, and traveling as much as she could. My brother stopped attending church entirely at that point, and has never come back, which is something I will never begrudge him. He’s found his hallowed halls in auto shops and garages, and I think that’s great.
I did come back, eventually, and then kept coming back, even when my mom wasn’t here, because she was jetting off to do incredible sabbatical things. I’ve come back so often that I’ve accidentally become semi-in charge of both Christian Education and the Sanctuary Use Committee, which is not something I ever really expected, asked for, or wanted, but here we are, and you’re still listening to me, so I must be doing something right.
Honestly, I like it. I like feeling useful, like a part of something bigger. I like the peace that comes from having something routine to do on Sunday mornings. I like seeing my grandparents every week, and getting to talk with them and eat with them more often than I ever have in any other period of my life.
I don’t know if I’m particularly religious, but if I believe in anything, I believe in the community of people who raised me, and who continue to support me as I move through life. I believe in the joy that comes from getting to support them—you— in turn, now that I have grown old enough to be relied upon.
I believe in the space that welcomes with grace every person who lands on our doorstep, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, creed, or flaws, and tries, with every bit of itself, to give back to the world that it exists in tenfold what it takes in return. I find Old First to be unique among its fellows in this way, and it makes me proud to call this my church. I come back every week because this is my home, you are my family, and I belong here, by right of history, by right of (almost) birth, and, most importantly, by right of choice.
Trixie S. -R.