Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Truth and Relationships

I'm more grateful than I know how to put into words that I grew up in church. Fond childhood church memories overflow my thoughts. I'm grateful that those childhood seeds that were planted took root and have blessed me in many ways as an adult.

Two words stand out when I think about my childhood church experiences: Truth and Relationships.

Sunday school, midweek programs like Sunbeams and GAs (Girls in Action), Vacation Bible schools, camps, choirs, short term mission trips - all of these were fun. The Bible was experienced as a delight, and that same feeling still exists for me today. Through all those years, and all those wonderful teachers, I was able to go through the entire Bible numerous time and develop a kind of mental frame work of how it all fits together (somewhat) that makes reading and understanding the Bible easier. Even though I know it's still all by the work of the Holy Spirit within me that the Bible becomes real and meaningful, all those experiences helped till the soil of my heart. I'm grateful to my parents for their own faithfulness and sacrifice to take me to, or send me out on, all those church related events and experiences.

None of my church memories feel like church was a place or limited to a Sunday service (although I do confess to tons of memories involving freeze tag played on the church lawns. What smart teachers thought to do that with a bunch of wiggly kids prior to trying to sit them down to teach them?!). Church was about relationships. I remember church people frequently being in our home. Back yard BBQs, people who were attending the denominational seminary over to share meals, English lessons through the Bible at our home...the people who we were in church with were in our home and in our lives. I can remember almost every Sunday when I was in elementary school either having my friends from church over after church, or going to their homes to play. I can also remember lots of different families, who didn't even have kids my age or kids at all, taking me with them to fun places like Disneyland or the beach or just to hang out and watch TV at their house and stay the night (as an adult I'm guessing that they did this to bless my parents with some adult time; but at the time it just seemed like that's what life was like). To this day when I think of my church the faces of numerous specific people come to my mind; my heart is filled pleasure as I think of these folks. Even though I may not be "best friends" with all of them, we are in relationship and there's not a doubt in my mind but that they know me (good and bad) and love me and even like me! I think that in this world that we live in that is saying a lot.

What about you, what are some of the seeds that were planted during your childhood church experiences that you see the fruit of in your life today?


Desiray said...

MY we had so many from cook outs to bible school to car washes to carnivals but if I had to pick one I would say all of them. To me it wasn't just about the fun it was meeting new children and having that time away going to new places. Even when I became an adult I still did these things with the church it really does mean something when you can help out.

Joyce Lighari said...

Sunbeams? Was this the same Sunbeams as I was in at the Salvation Army or another "Sunbeam" type group???
You said it so well when you said church is about relationship! It's what we were created to be, in relationship with God, with each other in life giving, self-sacrificing relationship.

David-FireAndGrace said...

Wow, church was sort of an extension for school. Some of the boys I grew up with, were in the classes. But we never went to anyone's home. I wasn't friends with anyone there. Probably why it didn't work.

Thanks for sharing.

Tracy said...

Joyce, "Sunbeams" weren't through the SA but were through our church; it was part of the WMU program (here's a link that explains WMU)that the church I grew up in participated in. It could be that your local SA participated in WMU, or just used that same name. As to the relationship thing; I feel like I've been so blessed by God.

Joyce Lighari said...

Tracy - Sunbeams in the Salvation Army go back to 1921

Tracy said...

That program of SA looks great and it's just a coincidence that they used the same name. Possibly because of that children's song "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam". When I looked into it there are lots of children's programs with the name sunbeams - interesting that we'd both be in different programs by that same name!