My church when I was growing up.
A church sanctuary represents faith, peace, love, friends, gratitude, and family to me. I still have such vivid and happy memories of the church my family attended when I was growing up. Even though it was one of the largest churches in town, I felt like I knew everyone. How truly wonderful I felt when I was that building…a building full of incredibly special places.
Even before I reached the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, I was always warmly invited into the education building. It was newly built during my childhood…I don’t recall what year. I will check on the information…just to satisfy my curiosity. I say education building because it was the building where all of the children’s and youth Sunday School classes were held. Perhaps there were also adult classes in the education building. I was not even aware of them…I was so focused on the classes for whatever age I happened to be.
After my years teaching school, I now realize what made the difference…what made me focus…what made me so happy to be there. It was the sense of community that I felt and the fact that I felt appreciated by everyone I met. It was the sense of family…my own family and the church members who I considered like family. Could it be that unsuccessful schools lack this same sense of community, sense of family, and appreciation for each child? Is that why so many children can’t seem to focus? I think that this might be one of the missing keys in education. Just thinking beyond the prompt.
In considering keys in church education, I am reminded to the other key aspects of why I loved my “growing up” church….the children’s chapel with small pews just the right size, the sinks and water fountain that were just low enough, the beautiful garden areas, the fellowship hall where we had pot luck dinners on Wednesday nights, the choir practice room. And most of all…the sanctuary.
The sanctuary was large with towering ceilings and the most beautiful stained glass windows and a big balcony where the teenagers sat. The center aisle was very long and I remember walking down that aisle during children’s choir Christmas programs. We all held real candles that were lit and my mother was always so worried about my pony tail! What if the child behind me got a little too close? I doubt they use real candles today! I remember thinking that I would be so tired after walking down that long aisle. I thought that I might not have any breath left to sing!
Walking down that long aisle for children’s choir was nothing compared to how I felt when I walked down that same aisle with my dad on my wedding day. I saw my mom sitting on the front row smiling so happily and crying at the same time. I saw my future husband standing at the front with the minister. Once again my breath was taken away. I will never forget the relatives and friends who filled the pews. I can still see their smiles. I can still see the flowers that decorated the sanctuary. I can still hear the songs that were sung. I can still hear the minister’s voice and the words he said. I remember walking back down the aisle holding my husband’s arm. I remember it all with joy. I so love that sanctuary and all of the many times that I happily spent there…among the people I loved.
My husband and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage in just twelve days. I will remember my wedding dress, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, my little cousin-the flower girl, my two little nephews-the ring bearers. I will remember what that sanctuary means to me…what it means to my husband and I.