Stuff I miss

It’s Easter Sunday, and this heathen will go to confession for a moment.

First, some history:

  • I was raised in a Baptist home. We went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and once midweek for as long as I can remember. Sick, well, rain, shine, blizzard — the Collinses were in that sanctuary. At a young age, I could recite the books of the Bible in order, and I loved it when we had Bible drills at Sunday School. I won those bad boys on a regular basis.
  • That said, our upbringing wasn’t the strictest of the Baptist flavor — not by a long shot. We were allowed to play cards and buy rock and roll records. We got Easter baskets and were permitted to go trick-or-treating. Later, we were allowed to attend school dances (just shortly after being allowed to wear pants to school — that was a big, big deal for me as a 7th grader). We were encouraged to read our Bibles at home, but not forced. Yet, we weren’t allowed to say the phrase darn it because it sounded too much like, well, that other word. We weren’t allowed to say Oh, my gosh because “gosh,” you know, could be misheard as “God.” And that would get you slapped right across the chops. Our parents were a little on the quirky side, but whose weren’t? Heck, my sons would probably say that about me today.

So, what’s this got to do with my nostalgia today? Well, in 1996, I forswore organized church, and I haven’t been back. It’s a decision that 99% of the time, I am glad I made. I won’t use this forum to go into the reasons why, but suffice it to say that removing the Sunday morning routine from my life has not distanced me from God, but rather just from the politics, drama, rules and prejudices surrounding the operation of the business called church. I believe that if I died tonight, I would go to heaven, even though I haven’t set foot in a church service more than 3-4 times in the last 19 years. Nothing anyone says will sway me from that conviction (so please don’t try), and I rejoice in it. I love God the same — even more completely and personally — now as I did in all the years I went to church. And before some well-meaning-but-kinda-passive-aggressive know-it-all comments “That’s between you and God,” I’ll say it’s between me and God, and it’s all good. :-)

Still, sometimes, like this morning, I miss parts of the church experience. Specifically, it’s the music, which should come as no surprise. Of all the hymns I’ve sung in my life (and there have been many), Easter hymns are my absolute favorite, with this one at the top of the list. I miss congregational singing. Mind you, not the pop-ish kind, with the ubiquitous “praise band” and worship leader up front, and lyrics on the screen and no music to follow, so if you don’t know the tune you’re basically standing there just listening and not participating, and by the time you actually get the melody by the 15th time through the chorus, the song’s over, but real hymns in the traditional style, with a powerful pipe organ accompaniment; a huge sound, filling the space, sung SATB.

Sounds kind of funny, coming from someone who was there at the very beginning of the praise band movement back in the 80s, pushing for its inclusion into modern worship. Heh. That’s the way of it, I guess. Time can change folks.

Yet I won’t return to the church building, because of the stigma attached to “Easter and Christmas Christians.” I shouldn’t care, but I do, and there you go. Some old habits die hard.

So that is what I miss.

Happy Easter and Blessed Passover to all — enjoy this beautiful day!

7 thoughts on “Stuff I miss

  1. David

    Ms Fink you have no idea…could write volumes…from the heart dear friend! Happy Easter to you and yours!

  2. Greg

    Christmas and Easter for church musicians are tough times. Whereas I love both days, it’s the preparation that gets me down. Sweating through rehearsals with choir members having colds, flu, sore throats and simonizing the cat (euphomism for “lame excuse”) etc., a person wonders if the music will ever be learned. In the end, love the music, not so much getting ready for the big days.
    True spiritual experiences: I was badly jet-lagged, got up early in London and took the Tube to Westminster Abbey for Matins. I got a seat in the choir stalls and as the choir processed in, half the group sat next to me! I could have reached over to grab the kid’s music folder and look through it. (I didn’t!) But when the men and boy choir sang the day’s anthem, the jet lag disappeared and the music took me to another level. Another time I took a break from hiking down in Hocking Hills, looked around the cave area I was in, surrounded by trees and the same experience happened again. Same spiritual uplift but in two very different locations. And I wasn’t the person in charge of either.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Well spoken, friend. I know this transportation very well, too. And only music can do it, it seems. Not pictures or paintings or the spoken word. Not for me, at least. I can’t imagine the thrill of sitting in the choir at Westminster!

  3. Lori

    Easter is the time when I get most melancholy for my church upbringing, too. I miss the Brethren three-fold communion and the Easter hymns, brass and organ! (We attend a “praise band”- type of church, which I love, but still ache for those old days!) One of the many good things about sending our kids to Lutheran schools is that they take their education and their church music VERY seriously. I enjoy it very much!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Lutheran church music — I was a part of it for 17 years, and loved it! I always referred to them as “Catholic Lite,” sort of like the Anglican/Episcopalian services. They used the liturgy (parts of which I really like) and hymnody often associated with Catholicism. I loved it, truly!


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