Church from a Child’s Perspective
I was raised going to church. My family went to a United Church of Christ Protestant church for the first sixteen years of my life. We went to one church for many years in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, home of the Moravian and Quaker settlers. Actually, the area of Pennsylvania I grew up in is home to the ancestors of many Germans who fled religious persecution in Europe, Moravians, Quakers, Amish, Mennonite, Anabaptist.
I liked church when I was a child. I felt the sense of fellowship. I loved Sunday school and learning about Jesus. It just felt right. It felt like a home. However, I don’t ever recall the teachers explaining what it means to be saved or the importance of salvation. The sanctuary of that old church was beautiful. I used to love to look at and study the details of the stained glass windows. I loved that when I was in there, everybody was very quiet and spoke in a whisper. There was reverence in that place. I loved the hymns we would sing and how the choir and the pastor would come into and leave the church in a great procession. I loved being a part of the choir and I even was a part of the bell choir. I don’t recall having the stage fright I developed throughout my life. I know I respected the Lord, but I never fully understood what His death on the cross meant. I got it in my head, but not in my heart.
When I was 8 years old, my family moved from Bethlehem to Allentown, Pennsylvania and after living there for 4 years, my mom decided to find us a new church that was closer. I remember being quite sad when we said goodbye to our old church. I didn’t like the new church at all. It was the same denomination, had the same stained glass windows, a choir, similar style of preaching. It just never felt like home to me. I never felt the fellowship in the new church like I felt it in the old. This was my church from the age of 12 to 16. I took the catechism at that church and got confirmed at that church. I do remember not liking the classes, but feeling very satisfied in being confirmed. I felt like I crossed over into something important, but again, not really comprehending what. It was also during these years I saw “Godspell” and I fell in love with Jesus for the first time. However, I don’t think it was the right kind of love. I believe it was eros and not agape. He seemed like such a hero to me. That a man would take on the sins of the world and be sacrificed. I still didn’t really get it.
I was a girl scout when I was a kid and the troop which I belonged to was based out of a Catholic church. We attended mass on special occasions and I was more struck with their service than my church. It seemed much more holy and reverent. I liked the little thing they kneeled on for prayer and I enjoyed all the prayers they prayed throughout the service. I always felt like I was on a cool field trip when we would go to mass.
I guess the thing that impressed me the most about church growing up is, it was like a religious club, where you got together with other families and did stuff together, like a social club. For example, my dad was raised Catholic, but gave up church, but he liked coming to church for fun social activities, not church itself. I can only think of one family in all the years of growing up who talked about Jesus all the time, just one family. That stays with me. How could it be out of all those people I can only remember one family? Were there not others?