Saturday, August 9, 2008

"First Worship"

My first spiritual experience came when I was somewhere around three years old. It is one of my earliest memories of childhood and happened on a frosty Sunday morning; I remember looking through a damp, icy window, into the early morning mist. I had run to the window after hearing church bells signaling the onset of the Sabbath, with the distinct feeling that I should be with the bells--I felt a sense of worship and was called toward it.....

My family were Methodists; we attended the beautiful Memorial Methodist church on Main St. in our little southern town. Sunday was the happiest day of the week for me because I knew that I would be going to the place I loved most.

Before going into the formal church service, I went to Sunday School. I can still remember the smell of fresh paint, lacquer, bibles and hymnals, and supplies. The sweetest of teachers, Mrs. Kitty Murphy (we called her Miss Kitty), would gather over a dozen children together-- meeting us with tender hugs and greetings. Sitting in rows, on short, wooden, straight-back chairs, we would sing familiar childhood songs like "Church In The Wildwood" / "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know"/ "Down In My Heart" and "The Wise Man Built His House"...all to my delight! After we finished singing, we were told Bible stories and made craft items. I never tired of being in that "special" place.

After Sunday School, I would meet my mother in the hallway and go into the formal, white, Holy sanctuary. As the organ played, we would quietly enter and take our seats. We always felt respectful and reverently waited for the first order of the service, which was the entrance of our pastor and the choir. Midway through the morning, my mother would put a quarter in my small hand, so I could place "the gift" in the offering plate when it was passed from person to person. It helped me feel as though I was part of the service and instilled in me a "giving" spirit.

All of my life I have carried this memory of "first worship" close to my heart. It was the beginning and the foundation of a deep relationship between my Creator and myself.

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