Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Early Church

My earliest memory of church is being dressed up. I'm under 5 for sure and wearing a bow tie, probably red and a blue blazer. I remember the adults above bustling about in that getting ready for church way. That bustling cheerfulness was something I'd encounter over and over again on Sunday mornings. People washing. Women putting on best clothes and hats. The hats came out on Sunday. My father and us boys would be kind of dragged along. Mom would be the driving force. When my aunt and their mother were around it was truly a force to contend with. Dad would be in charge of getting everyone in the car. He had on a suit and tie and polished shoes. Mom would mess with his hair like she messed with ours. My brother and I were wishing we were elsewhere.
The car was pulled round the front and we all went out the front together. It wasn't something to hide from the neighbors. Some of the neighbors didn't go to church. I wouldn't put it past my Mom, her mother and sister for wanting to show them what they were 'supposed' to be doing on Sunday morning. Any other occasion we'd have all gone out the back but not for church. It was a front street affair.
Dad would go around the car and make sure the "ladies" were attended to. He didn't do that on shopping trips. My brother, mostly sullen, and myself would 'pile' in the back.

The front of the church was what it was all about. Parking was Dad's job. Letting us off in front of the church occurred if parking was further away. Sometimes we all walked from the car.
The ride wasn't too exciting. Kids and parents in a car with parents talking and asking questions. My brother and I might poke each other and get in trouble on the way. I was usually catching heck as the youngest.

A lot of smiling going around the church. Lots of hugs and kisses on the cheek and sweet waves. I remember adults mussing my hair alot. The Ladies sure liked church especially when they got to wear their hats. Easter hats. Odd because Jesus was dying on the cross and here the whole congregation was all for his being risen. I didn't know any theology back then.

Kids went downstairs and were thankful for it. Ministers were likely to drone on and never had anything relevant to say. Not to a kid's mind. My parents liked listening.
As an adult I've enjoyed the sermons like discussions and lectures so appreciate now that ministers to my parents were like a local professor. There was lots of singing too. The choir had burgundy gowns and black trim. They sat together and the congregation joined in the singing.
I loved best "Onward Christian Soldiers". As a kid I was all for martial activities. Dad had been in the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII. The television had replays of all the famous war movies. The Cold War was on and any day the dirty commies could be coming over the North Pole just begging to be whipped by us kids and our families. So "Onward Christian Soldiers" was my favorite hymn. I didn't really listen to the words of songs back then either.

Sunday school was where we played games and were told stories in the basement. We even had Sunday School comic books. That how I learned about the Apostles, St. Paul, Peter and Mary and such.

Later we'd all traipse back up stairs and join our parents for the end of the service. They actually all looked happy to see us and we felt all that warm all over reunited experience there in the church.
If someone was going to be dunked and drowned in what they called a baptism we got to stay. It was pretty gruesome and frightening but pretty exciting too.

I remember the parents waists were above my head when I first went to church. It was like trying to move through a bunch of close together trees when they began to file out of the church and we tried to catch up with either Dad or Mom. They'd start talking to someone and get separated.

After church if we didn't go home for sandwiches and tea we'd go out to a restaurant or for a drive around the park. My grandmother was pretty old then and she liked the drive around the park.

There were a whole lot of Sunday morning church services when I was growing up. There must have been some bad times. I can't remember them now. When I got to adolescence things looked awry in a lot of directions. Pretty much the whole adult world looked askance to me. I didn't want to do anything adults did. Before that though church was okay.

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