There are so many jokes floating about concerning Methodism…covered dish luncheons, believing in everything—just a little bit…it got me to thinking one day…. “Why am I a Methodist?” Is it only because my father came from a long line of Methodists? Probably, but what I have recently concluded is that it is about the church in my heart that has become the important thing. Being a Methodist or a Baptist or a Catholic could all suit me just fine as I appreciate elements in all of them. But over the years, my little Methodist Church on Haney Street has become so much more than a building where I try to go on a regular basis. I go back to a thing that happened many years ago that secured in my heart my love for my church that will last my lifetime.
It was Communion Sunday and I had my two small children with me, which is probably when I began my routine of sitting in the back. I don't "need" to sit back there anymore, but the truth is, I like it back there. I like to see all the people in church sitting in front of me. I like to wonder how the sermon is speaking to them, what their prayers or needs are. I also like to say the Lord’s Prayer in my mind only, which allows me to hear the voices of those around me saying it out loud. I like the stain glass windows and the stories they tell. I like the “ hat lady section.”…where the grandmother widows sit together…the true chord of love and sweetness in our church that I hope to rise to the level of one day.
But back to that particular Sunday…Grace was 8 and Charles was 4…I was always trying to teach them manners, independence, and all the life lessons that you try to teach children. Charles was a bit bored and asked for permission to visit the men’s room and so I let him go “all by himself”. When he didn’t return for some time, I left the sanctuary to go check on him and finally found him in the kitchen.
I could not believe what I saw! He had climbed up on the cabinet, gotten himself a plate, and had the refrigerator door flung wide open. I rounded the corner just in time to see him gobbling a big bite of cherry Jell-O salad that he had helped himself to, with a substantial amount left on his plate. Obviously for one of those covered dish luncheons we’re so famous for, or worse yet, a funeral.
I don’t remember now. But I do remember that I quickly shut everything he had opened, covered the salad, and grabbed his little four year old body up and he said with his little Jell-O covered mouth, “Mom, I was just so hungry!” I said, “Do you think you’re at home or what?”
And with my own words, I realized…yes, he absolutely thought he was home and you know? He was! He felt so very comfortable in his church that he never gave a second thought to helping himself to what was in the fridge because he was hungry. I was horrified that day, but today, it’s one of my fondest memories. He was a little boy at home in his church.
I was a Baptist where my grandmother played the piano in Pleasant Valley, but I became a Methodist when my mother married my dad. My sister and I were baptized on Easter Sunday when I was 8 and she was 5. We wore matching dresses, hats, gloves, ruffled socks, and shiny white shoes…the Easter Works. We walked down the isle of the First United Methodist Church on Haney Street in Spearman, Texas, together. We kneeled at the altar with our family, and we two little sisters gave our lives to Jesus.
The comfort that I feel can be expressed in the same way that my small son felt in the kitchen years ago…it is my sanctuary, it is my back pew, it is my isle, it is my church…I am a Methodist.
I have walked down that isle many times over the years…as a small child accepting Jesus, as a born again Christian to state my faith, as a graduating senior with my class of 1975, as a bride, as a mother to dedicate my own babies, as the mother of the bride, and soon as a proud grandmother of a potential little red haired girl named Betty who will visit my church often. I have even walked down that isle to bury my friends, and someday it will be my last journey down that very same isle when I am laid to rest.
Yes, I have made many trips down that isle for many reasons. And while the trips are all worthy in themselves, there is so much more that defines them. You see, what I love about being a Methodist, is that you walk down that isle only two times that really matter…once as a sinner, and once back forgiven…
...and so life goes on…fried chicken in the fridge, carols at Christmas, Easter Sunrise Service, a new set of hat ladies in the middle and a new set of babies in the back…all of us…loving being a part of First United Methodist Church on Haney Street in Spearman, Texas.