In a month or two it is likely that Jason and I will be baptized and then we will get the kids baptized too. We are currently taking Catechism classes with our pastor on Wednesday evenings. He is kind enough to come to the house because he knows it would be too difficult for us to find the time for 12 classes with the kids being so young. As part of the series we read from Luther's Small Catechism, the history of Martin Luther, and a Meaningful Worship book. The class is intended to be an introduction to Christianity and Lutheranism. First off, I'm so glad I found this church because after 10 years of going to different churches and mostly spending our time at the UCC, Jason and I FINALLY feel like we are learning something. There are so many things that I think people take for granted if they were raised in the church, that Jason and I have been clueless about. We have so many questions from basic to complex that have needed explanation! It feels good to finally feel like "Oh! So THAT'S what that is!" as well as learn a lot of history and get some foundational knowledge of the faith. We have four more classes before we're done.
So why Christianity? Why not Buddhism or Judaism or something else? I did investigate these religions and still believe they have value, however, I chose to learn about Christianity for a few reasons:
1. Because even though I wasn't raised specifically as a Christian, I grew up amongst it. Culturally it is what I feel comfortable with.
2. I got tired of celebrating Christmas and Easter as purely secular holidays. I got tired of having a life with no rituals set aside during the week to honor the sacred. All those years when I'd go to church and drag Jason with me, never really "getting" many parts of the service or "getting" Jesus, I went just to say my thank yous. Half the time I didn't even know what I was really doing there other than the thank you part.
3. When I was 34 weeks pregnant with Frannie I began to have "labor jitters". I spoke to Lori on the phone and told her that I was scared. I told her that I wanted to trust in God but that I was feeling afraid. When she heard me mention God, she asked if she could pray for me. I told her she could and she prayed for me right there on the phone and asked God that knit my baby in my womb to give me strength and courage that He will see me through. As she prayed I felt a weight lifted off of me and I began to cry deep sobs. It was the first time anyone had prayed for me, and after that I wasn't afraid to give birth. I knew that things could happen, but I came to a place of peace knowing that it was out of my hands.
4. When I did give birth to Frannie and I was in my deepest place I felt as if I could touch the other side. The other side is so close to us, like pinching fabric with two fingers. It's just right there. And when I was deep and pinched the other side I could feel tremendous peace there. I was in pain and at peace all at the same time. I know that there is a loving God. I know this as much as I know anything.
5. After Frannie was born I began searching more for a religion or a church. I doubt I will ever claim to have all of the answers to life or anything, but it is very important to me that my kids know God. I need them to know that when I die or someone they love dies, that we are always here with them. I need them to know that when bad things happen, they are never alone. When they feel lonely or scared or inadequate there is a loving God who made them and who walks with them.
6. It was Adam's birth that made me understand the concept of Jesus as a savior. Adam's birth was extremely painful. Much more so than I experienced with Frannie. His was so painful that it took me about 9 months to process what happened and to process the depth of pain. Why does God call women for this? Why does God ask this pain of us? This process of birth can feel like dying. Why? Why has God called his daughters to die to give life to our young? The surrendering of the body and bearing of pain is an act of pure love. This is what Jesus did for us. Perhaps God sent a Son and not a daughter because his daughters are the ones bearing the pain of ushering in life. In Jesus, he bears the pain so that we may make our way home. Ultimately bearing the pain has brought great joy to my life. I enjoy thinking about the days my children were born. Those were heroic days for me. I can see how Jesus' death while desperately sad, is also heroic and full of hope. His life is one I am just now learning more about. Remember, I'm a newbie.
So tomorrow morning is Easter Sunday. I am looking forward to greeting God and experiencing the hope.