Only to be with you
The Wenatchee Seventh Day Adventist Church was pink. Iâ€™m sure the original name for the color was â€œroseâ€ or â€œsoft magentaâ€ or somesuch; but let us be frank, it was pink. Not the outside of the church, which was painted a soft cream color that tended more towards yellow in the baking central Washington summer sun, but the sanctuary itself: the carpets, the fabric of the pew cushions, the tint in the wall color – all pink.
I know that it was the first church I was ever in. It was the sanctuary where I was dedicated in the summer of 1976. And it is the place where all of my early memories of church were made. It is also the proto-typical image I have when I think â€œchurchâ€â€¦right down to the pink pews.
And when holidays would come, my entire family would gather in this church, practically filling the right-hand side with Knutsons and Brodys, Millers and Pershalls, Rogers and Peets. Weâ€™d listen to Uncle Charlie give the sermon, sing hymns off-key (because singing didnâ€™t seem to be â€œour giftâ€ by and large) and then join together in the Fellowship Hall for potluck and stories; followed by a chance for all the cousins to get our church clothes dirty playing on the school playground next door as the afternoon would fade into evening while the grownups talked and talked and talked.
Church was family. It was a holiday every weekend. It was sitting on aunt Patâ€™s lap through the sermon, even though she had two boys of her own. It was singing hymns with gusto with â€œuncleâ€ Bob Brody (who WAS given the gift of song) until we were hoarse and spent and ready to nap under the pew. It was â€œhere is the church, here is the steeple, open up the doors, and see all the people!â€ (with requisite hand motions and finger wiggling) while aunts and cousins laughed softly and smiled at all the kids gathered like chicks between patient mother hens.
Church was where I learned â€œJesus Loves Meâ€ and â€œAmazing Graceâ€ and that true grace is loving everybody because Jesus loves them, so we should too. No exceptions.
Church was where cousin Jeff gave me his â€œwheat thinâ€ communion cracker because I was sad that I didnâ€™t get a tiny glass of grape juice and â€œhe didnâ€™t mind sharingâ€ with a precocious little cousin on the brink of tears from being left out. The lesson I carried with me for years and years was that communion was a gift, and gifts are shared with love and without reservation.
For me, church was family, and love, and something to look forward to; and pink.
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