Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cherishing the Memories - St. Paul Lutheran Church 1892-2013

As I sit here tonight, I have a lifetime of memories of my childhood church swirling around in my head:
  • Moving through the ranks of the Christmas program as I got older - from an angel, to a shepherd, to a wise man, and then finally, finally being old enough to be Mary.  (and there was one year when I was the star of the show. Literally - I was the star of Bethlehem)
  • Climbing the forbidden ladder to the bell tower to see if there was a bell. (Answer: No; weren't any bats either)
  • The beauty of the Christmas Eve candlelight service and the awe I felt as the candlelight spread through the sanctuary as we sang Silent Night. (and then there was year when an usher backed into the candles in the window and set his coat on fire...)
  • The older gentleman who was always a word behind during the prayers, the creed, etc.
  • Lib Slater "stepping" on my foot with her cane every Sunday.
  • Hugs from Harry Young.
  • My brother getting his finger stuck in the end of his shepherd's crook during one of the Christmas play rehearsals.
  • The way the purple choir robes clashed with the red carpet in the sanctuary
  • Emelie Knudson singing "Were You There" during lenten services.
  • Mrs. Casto's nursery school - with the yellow chair you sat in when you were bad and the old-fashioned bathtub full of pillows that you could lay in during nap-time if you were good. (and to this day, I still follow her instructions and don't stack blocks higher than I am tall)
  • Flo Williams and her magical sauce that was spaghetti sauce one day and hot dog chili the next (and sometimes it was "Sloppy joes" too)
  • Drinking orange kool-aid from the big red & yellow McDonald's coolers
  • Seeing my Dad preach one Sunday and proudly and loudly announcing "That's my Daddy" as he stepped into the pulpit.
  • The pride and wonder I felt the first time my brother presided over communion and led a service as a Pastor  (didn't make any announcements that time, but felt it just the same)
  • Brennan Dettinger, who was maybe 3 at the time, drawing a picture of a skeleton to put on the Sunday School Christmas tree. When asked why a skeleton, he responded, "that's the Holy Ghost"
  • Andrew Weirick carrying a pumpkin that was as big as he was and saying "heavy..." in a deep dramatically strained voice
  • Christine Weirick drawing me pictures on the bulletin pages (note to self - find those!)
  • Taking Christine to Mrs. Casto's nursery school and telling her I went there too. She looked at me and in four-year-old wonder asked "was she old then too?"
  • Eating cheerios and drawing my own pictures on the paper my dad kept in his suit pocket to keep me occupied throughout the service.
  • Straining to catch a glimpse of my mom as she processed (prosessed??) in and out with the choir (I may have even waved as she passed by our pew)
Until this morning, I hadn't been to church in.... well, in so long that I can't remember how long it's been. I may not have gone to services but the church, St Paul Lutheran, I knew, was always there, waiting for me to come to my senses, return to my roots, and come back home. Until today.

Today was the last service. St. Paul as a separate unique entity has officially closed. The building will be sold; the congregation merging with another. While I know I should be celebrating a new beginning and be looking forward to the church opening new doors and windows now that the old ones are closed, it's hard. It's not always easy to celebrate a new beginning when your heart is breaking from the ending.

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