Deacon Don said the sermon this week at church. About half the parishioners that day were 1st year Confirmandi, high school students starting instruction to make their Confirmation. The deacon said, "You're here. It doesn't matter what got you here...nagging parents or friendships or taking the class...really, the reason doesn't matter. You're here...whatever gets you here."
I started thinking about what got me to church over the years, leading me to this place in my life and the commitment I feel toward my faith. I've made a list:
5-6 years old - A delicious nap! Nothing could put me to sleep quite like (what I felt) was a droning sermon.
10-11 years old - The Spirit of the Lord choir! I loved singing with the choir that both my dad and mom directed over the years. And I'm not gonna lie...the possibility that I might get a solo and sing in front of the congregation was a driving force and an added bonus.
13 years old & on - Summer visitors - translation...boys! There was an incredibly cute boy who summered in the bay area with his mother. I thought surely he would eventually notice me (picture unruly curly hair, slightly buck teeth, and chubby thighs...I was workin' it!). I couldn't believe this never panned out into anything of significance, but boy did I feel inspired to attend services.
14-15 years old - Krispy Kreme donuts! Enough said...
16-17 years old - St. Lawrence Youth Group and Youth Choir! Trips to Six Flags, Christmas hayrides singing carols and drinking hot chocolate, Fish Fry's, Spaghetti Dinners, Ecumenical concerts with youth from other parishes...these were great years where I really loved being at church and fellowshipping.
Mid 20's - Father Stan! Okay, I'll admit it...I had a crush on our pastor. But I tell ya', there's nothing like an earnest speaker with a kind heart, sandy blond hair and Birkenstocks to make a young woman without a family commit her Sunday mornings.
Mid 30's - Setting an example! Yes, these were the obligation years. Of course, there were many Sundays I wished we could have slept in, having been up with sick toddlers half the night and working hard during the week. Nothing compares with a little familial guilt to motivate you. (Whatever gets you there...)
Mid 40's...today - Wanting to be there! Yes, I've finally arrived. I truly look forward to the message and the Word, to the liturgy and the inspiration. At long last, all the reasons are wrapped up together - except I promise I don't nap. I have a handsome man by my side, two children with whom I love sharing the service, the music is wonderful, I'm involved in the parish activities, and I love our pastor...though not in the same manner as Father Stan.
(Please post YOUR reasons for getting to church each week now or when you were younger! Would love to read them.)
It's been a journey but one I wouldn't change. Although my reasons were hardly altruistic and in fact, were often the motivation of a selfish child, they still kept me coming back week after week. And if I gleaned even one little nugget from every few services over the years, those seeds planted and developed sowed what was necessary to cultivate a true desire to follow Him.
As I was leaving church this week, an older gentleman, maybe mid 70's, stopped me and said, "Hey, were you the gal reading up there today?" I said, "Yes, I was," expecting him to tell me that he had gotten something out of my delivery. Instead he said, "You know, I've been coming to church here for 43 years...
...and you're the hottest chick lector I've ever seen!" My mouth was agape until I chuckled and said, "Well, that's not exactly what I was expecting but I'll take it...thank you." Colleen and I walked out and she said, "That was a little creepy." To which I responded, "Yep...but whatever gets you here!"