I never had to choose before I began College.
I never had to choose a church. The bishop, or God or whom ever you wish to say always had the power to move my father, and by proxy, me, to a church. And that was my church for however long that lasted.
So when I began college I researched United Methodist churches in the area, and found one down the road that advertized a contemporary service. I could walk, and did, most mornings. It met in the midmorning, and so my family and I went before I moved into my dorm my first day at school. And I never chose another church, for four years.
When I came home after school, dad had moved twice, and so I had a new church home, while I was waiting for PC to get everything in order. And when I came home from Kenya, dad had moved again, and I went there while I waited for Div School to start.
And then I had to choose a church again. Again, I went on line, found one on line that had a bilingual, cross-racial service, and Eucharist each Sunday, and went there for a year, until Field Ed told me what church I was working at.
And now that Field Ed is over, that church doesn’t feel like a church home any more. And Dad moved again while I was out of the country, so though the house has the spoons in the right place, it doesn’t feel like home any more. And now I am free to choose a church to attend, or not, until next June, when my bishop tells me where I am going to serve.
I will attend church. I don’t not attend church. I’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work for me. I’ve got to worship with a group of people or things start to sink in my life. And so I’ll worship, even if I don’t know exactly where right now. It may change, I want to have the opportunity to see different styles and learn new things by experience, while I still can.
And though I worship three times a week at School (and sometimes more, at morning prayer, though not as much as first year), it is not the same. I need that landmark, that structure, that Sunday Standard, to have a week that feels right. Otherwise I never even know what day it is.
It is a strange conundrum. I am not used to it. I don’t really think that I should get to choose my church family, the same as I don’t get to choose my family. (Granted, my family sometimes may choose to not be in my life at any certain point in time, but that’s different. They are still family.) This is an option that I am not conditioned to make. When I was growing up, each congregation let us in to worship, and we fit, or didn’t, and then after a while we always moved on. Sometimes with goodbyes, sometimes not, especially those times dad moved and I wasn’t living in town then.
I joined a church last month. And I am a member there now. It was the first time in over ten years that I declared and moved my membership for myself. But I won’t attend there. I will be a member until June. And then I’ll not even be a member of any church, but of the Conference. I will only be a member of the Church, not any particular church.
And then I won’t have to make these decisions any longer. Well, I won’t have to make the decisions like these, I’ll have other decisions to make. Including decisions of how I will make each new church a home. I will have to make a decision to let the congregation into my life, knowing that I will be moving sooner or later, and will have to say goodbye. But if I know myself, then I know that my home will be moving with me.
I am looking forward to finally going home.