hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I had to remember to put my phone on silent before I went to church.

I don't think I've been to church since i had a phone to put on silent, except going along occasionally with my mom when I'm back visiting and I can't use my phone in Minnesota anyway.

I haven't gotten myself to church since I was, what, nineteen? Somewhere in my first or second year in college I went from the holdover of fairly evangelical Christianity I'd finished high school with to wanting to sleep in, and then working night shifts on Saturdays and somewhere amidst the practicalities my keenness drained away and my belief drained away altogether without me noticing until long after it had.

I've been to the odd wedding (including my own!) or funeral in church since, but not anything so closely resembling a normal service until today.

And today wasn't that normal; it was the baptism service for my fictive nephew, who was not christened or baptised as a baby and decided of his own volition this year that he wanted to be. He just turned eight today.

It was strangely familiar: the liturgy is more modern than I grew up with, but a lot, especially the congregation's responses, is pretty much word-for-word what I was used to, and it surprised me how much came back to my mind, just in time for me to say it. I fumbled through prayers, only remembering one line as I finished the previous one, and even remembering one of the hymns (though not from my fusty old church but from the Bible camps of my teenage years).

But it was also very different: so much more relaxed not just from the officiants at the front (both women!) but also from the congregation, who chatted incessantly beforehand, who didn't mind their kids running over to talk to their friends somewhere else, who clapped when a six-year-old read the gospel (and having a six-year-old reading the gospel at all!).

It was really special, including Jack using his dad's christening shawl in the baptism. And his Bible as, basically, a prop. "Jack's dad is giving him the Bible he had as a child," the vicar said, and the honesty of small children compelled Jack to say "but I have to give it back to him afterward," which got the biggest laugh of the event.

I'd never seen anyone baptised who wasn't a baby. Indeed my mom was fretful and slightly judgmental of family members who'd never baptised their children; baptism had an air of insurance about it, it was a layer of protection to get in place as soon as possible "just in case..."

The more evangelical Christians I fell in with as a teenager left me with the idea that baptism should be a meaningful decision made by the individual at an age where they can make it. But of course all the baptisms I saw were at my mom's Lutheran church or my dad's Catholic one, where the only way one differed from another was whether or not the baby cried when it got water on its face (and, when I was old enough to spot this, whether the family were regular churchgoers according to the grumbling judgment of my own family).

Whereas this clearly had Jack's personality stamped all over it, and I thought that was lovely. He bounded around, bounding to and from the front of the church as need be, reading out lines he'd practiced both in the baptismal service itself and as part of the communion service, disappeared to talk to a friend one time when he was about to be needed up front again, delivering that line about having to give his dad's Bible back with perfect comedic timing, and a million little things that made me feel lucky to know him well enough to recognize him here and to be a part of his special day.

At the end of the service the deacon said, "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Stopping for coffee along the way." And it just made me grin. The first part I'm so familiar with, the second wasnt even an implicit part of the doxology I grew up with; at my mom's church people lingered to chat but at ours everybody scattered as soon as we shook hands with the priest on the way out. And even my mom's was too formal to have the coffee being mentioned.

When I got home and changed, I still heard my necklace rattling around on its chain around my neck. I wear them too infrequently these days, I'd forgotten all about it. It says "We're all stories, in the end" and I wore it because I got it as a Christmas gift from Jack's mum one year.

It was fitting anyway for today, a day where near-fossilized stories about my childhood joined up to stories about the people I'm glad to have in my life now that things are mostly so very different but still can be linked back to the old ones.

Only much later did I learn my necklace was a quote from Doctor Who, since I never watched all the Tennant episodes, and that made it a nice choice for today too, when I got home just in time for the news of who the new Doctor is, and the potential for lots of new stories.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-16 04:27 pm (UTC)
angelofthenorth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] angelofthenorth
That sounds lovely ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-16 06:43 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
That sounds like a very moving experience, and you wrote about it beautifully. Though I'm not Christian myself and very wary of institutional Christianity, I'm pleased for that kid.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-16 09:23 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
:)

It's not a high priority for me right now, but some day I'd like to have a community of people with which to observe rites of passage, celebrate seasons, discuss spiritual questions, and enact world-repair. It just won't be a Christian group; more likely an intentionally interfaith or a pagan group, outside chance at something else. (Unless you count UU congregations as inherently Christian; I tend to think of them as syncretists.)

But I'm glad that people who want such a Christian church can find one.

Chill and friendly and welcoming to guests are good signs.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-17 04:42 pm (UTC)
colonelsandgeeks: (FIAD Hug)
From: [personal profile] colonelsandgeeks
See, to me, that's how churches should be - welcoming, warm, friendly communities. Glad you had a lovely time. And I love the sound of that necklace

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-17 06:35 pm (UTC)
barakta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] barakta
I didn't realise how significant religion had been in your upbringing - really interesting to read.

Delighted to hear about Jack's lovely baptism and how personalised to him it was and how lovely community the church is.

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