Some friends and I were chatting recently about church and some of our experiences growing up.
Somehow or other, I stumbled across a sweet/silly little video of a church elder trying to rouse a congregation to worship and I was instantly transported back to the ‘revival days’ of my childhood.
As a child, going to church, we never quite knew what to expect. There was (naturally) a planned order, but there was always this intentional space for the Holy Spirit to take over. This could be someone giving a prophecy, the worship extending into the preaching or the preaching being abandoned all together, while people gathered at the front, fervently praying for each other, longing for God to do more.
Sometimes the services went on late into the night and as a youngster, I remember falling asleep under a church chair, head leaning on my dad’s soft leather Bible, while the floor beneath me vibrated with people jumping up and down and thanking, praising, exalting God.
There were plenty of ‘characters’ too. There was ‘Irene Tambourine’ who used to bash her (ribboned) tambourine with astonishing gusto, Auntie Pat, who always wore the same green felt hat and handed out mint imperials to all the kids after the service, not to mention all the adopted uncles who’d always let you know (in lieu of an available parent) if you were running about too much.
We did get into trouble sometimes, for joking too much during Sunday School, soaping the floor of the ladies to make an ‘ice rink’….and because we had an outdoor baptism tank, the ‘after service’ always involved throwing someone or other in….my dad once got chucked in, still wearing his finest (woollen) suit.
It was a fantastic way to grow up, not without its challenges, but in a safe, Spirit-filled, God-loving environment. I loved the unpredictability of it, the never-quite-knowing what each service would be like.
There was a verse often quoted; “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor 3:17).
And goodness, was that true. I’m so glad that I have this kind of church and upbringing as part of my foundation.
As our family soon prepares to welcome a new arrival..I know that they too will grow up with that same security. It’s the best way to grow up.