Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cross of Love for a Sunday Morning

Good Sunday morning! It's still dark where I am, and all is quiet. Time for thinking and writing and slowly sipping strong coffee. Do you like the bead? I'm falling in love with the wide letters stacked up and down the front and the simplicity of the narrow cross gracing the back. The deep red hints of sacrifice.

Now, for something completely different.

How can I think about Christianity and Sunday mornings without remembering the little Methodist church I actually attended for a while as a teenager (and you thought I was a complete heathen, didn't ya?). Sunday mornings were entertaining in a warped kind of way. Having never really gone to church, the experience was enlightening both spiritually and socially. . .mostly socially, as in learning to deal with little old ladies and trying to keep ourselves awake during the sermon without causing too much of a commotion. When one of my friends and I first started attending, the pastor was a kind, elderly man whose family sat in the front row. Services were quiet and kind, just like him. Well, except for his daughter-in-law who happily explained that if God saw fit to give her an off-key voice, then God would just have to listen to her as she loudly sang his praises. Being incredibly tone deaf but still loving music, I remember her fondly when I sing along to the radio :)

Not long after I got used to this sedate Sunday routine, it was time for the pastor to rotate to a new church. That's when quiet got even more quiet, and it became impossible to stay awake during the snorefest, uh, sermon without playing games and entertaining ourselves. It really wasn't Brother Bill's fault. He was much younger than his congregation, so he wanted to liven up the Sunday service. It just didn't happen. Looking back, I'm pretty sure he would've felt limited by the elderly congregation's expectations for a Sunday morning message. While most of those little old ladies were very nice, I'm pretty sure you didn't want to cross them (excuse the pun). It all made for a very boring hour. So, the teenagers had to find quietly creative ways to stay awake. One of our favorites was the old standby where you thumb through the hymnal and insert a set phrase after each song title. I'm sure there are other versions, but right now the only one I can remember is ". . .under the bedsheets." Well, you know, Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art are gonna cause uncontrollable giggles with that one. When the song title games got boring, we'd resort to making faces and throwing things. Yep, I remember the morning we got busted mid-sermon, too. Someone was snoring, you could hear it plainly. Brother Bill was struggling with some message that obviously wasn't captivating his charges. My friend and I were making tiny paper airplanes. One of the airplanes was apparently more aerodynamic than expected and flew over a few pews, catching the notice of the pastor. Uh, oh. We thought we were busted for sure. . . especially when Brother Bill headed our way as everyone was standing up to go to Sunday school. We froze, he grinned, and this bit of Sunday morning wisdom was tossed our way: he'd entertained himself during sermons as a youngin' by occasionally putting a pair of those fake Halloween fangs/teeth in his mouth and then grinning widely at his pastor during especially somber parts of the sermon!

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