I was baptized as an infant but can probably count the number of times I have attended a service using my fingers (and maybe a toe or two). I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know much about the bible beyond what I've seen in epic Charlton Heston flicks or references from the DaVinci Code. I've had a detached interest in the history of Christianity - and all religion - for a long time. I've read about Paganism, Buddhism, Judaism, and more over the years. I find it fascinating, but in an educational way. And for some reason, Mom never took kindly to me joking that I would burst into flames if I ever did go to church.
I've never felt drawn to church or experienced a need to get my religious beliefs in order until I had a kid. Then all of the sudden not only was I responsible for my own wandering soul, but someone elses, too! Do I want him to grow up like I did, with some vague sense of what God is all about? Of course not! Do I want him to become some religious extremist? Of course not! I want to find a nice, comfortable in between.
After dragging my feet about it for the last 3 years, I decided that this new year is the year to do something. Last night I went to church. It was a lovely Lutheran church, with pretty arched windows and a brick exterior. Tom was working so I enlisted my sister on my mission. I was nervous for many reasons. First of all, I assumed that everyone would notice that we were newbies, outsiders... we didn't belong. And then there was the Jack factor. How on earth would I get my rambunctious almost-three-year-old to sit still and quiet for an entire sermon? I packed my purse with raisins and tic-tacs and small toys that don't make noise.
We arrived and were greeted warmly. I explained that we were new to their church and asked if they had a family area (ie, place where you could sit with small, noisy children). I was directed towards the back. They didn't have a dedicated child area but they did have an annex with big windows to watch the service. We sat in the last row of pews for about 5 minutes and then retreated to the annex. Jack just didn't understand that he had to sit still and whisper. It was a totally new experience for him. I think that if we attend regularly, we can build up 'Church Stamina' and by the 3rd or 4th visit he will begin to learn that church is for listening and sitting calmly. Maybe.
While we were in the annex we met the pastor and the deacon. They gave me all sorts of material to read through about the church and it's services. Although we didn't make it the entire sermon (Jack turned into a squealing jumping bean after about thirty minutes and Mama's shushes and treats were powerless) I feel like it was a good start.
I did it. I went to church and didn't burst into flames.