In honor of Sunday, I've decided (at the likely chagrin of my siblings) to share this story about my childhood memories of church. Not church at the building with sermons and Sunday School, but church at our house.
You see, my dad was a stickler about going to church. It was always a big deal if we missed and there really weren't any good excuses, in his mind, for not going. He used to call me around 7:00 a.m. when I was in college just to "check in and see if I was getting ready for church." I never was.
Anyway, back to the story. Every once in a while, Dad would decide that, for whatever reason, instead of going to church, we would have a "devotional" in our home. I think this is a perfectly lovely idea in theory. IN THEORY.
Sometimes, we'd get off easy. We had these picture books with different Bible lessons and sometimes, Dad would just read these and ask us the questions. There were also the times we played a game of Bible Trivia. Yes, that's right. Bible Trivia. (We didn't have Trivial Pursuit, we had Bible Trivia. If Dad ever let us choose what we were going to do, I would immediately shout "BIBLE TRIVIA!!!" I loved it). Those devotionals were easy and usually pretty fun. In fact, I think we would all agree that we liked those times better than actually going to church.
But then there were the others. The ones where we actually had a fake, but real church service in our home. The only thing missing was the offering plate. Seriously, my dad even made my brother (in an effort to protect his privacy and dignity, I won't name the brother) lead singing. LEAD SINGING. In our home. With a hymnal. In his long underwear. God bless him. We sang a few songs (my brother's choice as song leader) and then listened to my dad "preach" a sermon. The boys would take turns saying the "closing prayer." (This is for real, people. I couldn't make this up if I tried.) I usually didn't have anything terribly important to do except listen during these services. As a woman in our church, you really just have to listen and "support your men." So that's what I did. I didn't know to be embarrassed then and it's only looking back now that I think it was a bit much. Although, my other brother would volunteer to lead the singing, so maybe we all thought it was cool then. Maybe I was jealous that I didn't get to stand in the middle of the living room in my underwear, with a hymnal, leading songs. I'm not sure. All I know is that, while I won't be conducting these church services in my house (unless my husband volunteers to lead singing in his underwear), I'm grateful for the smile it puts on my face when I think of it today. Thanks, Dad, for being so weirdly firm about making us learn about Jesus, no matter what.