Tuesday, November 1, 2016

For *All* the Saints

This is a re-post of something I wrote two years ago. I started to write this story again today and then realized that I had, in fact, already written it.

This year, this is in memory of both Charlotte and Lindsey, who confirmed and strengthened me in the faith in the simple and quiet ways.

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

- William W. How

I started going to worship service with my parents when I was four or so, and we always went to early service. I was one of the only children in early service, which meant that, when I was a little older, I did a lot of helping in service - reading, praying, helping with communion, even a little ushering.

I also grew up sitting in front of an older couple who had been members of the congregation for a long time. They always said hello to my family and always said hello to me, and they also always noticed if I had a new dress. It was a small thing, but it meant a lot. They were part of church for me. For a long time, though, I didn't know their names.

At some point, they changed seats to sit at a particular angle to the lights because it helped the man see better; his eyesight had been getting worse. We still always said hello, though.

Every year, the church gave Bibles to the third graders on a Sunday in September, and on the same Sunday, the church honored those who had been members of the congregation for at least fifty years. Each third-grade Bible had the third-grader's name on the front, and then inside the front cover there was a note from one of the 50+ year members.
I had to go to late service to get my Bible. There weren't enough children in early service for them to take the time to do it there, too, I suppose, but that always made me sad; the people in early service were the ones who had seen me grow up. I remember kneeling at the railing on one side of the sanctuary with the other third graders, being handed my Bible, and being blessed, and then on the other side there were the fifty year members.

And later, I opened up the cover and read the note. It said about what you would expect: how important scripture had been in their lives, and how they hoped that I would grow through reading my Bible. The note was from a couple named Charlotte and Lindsey. I went home and got the church directory and found their picture.

It was the couple who sat behind us in early service every week.

I thanked them the next week, and they were surprised and happy. They hadn't realized it was me. I usually went by a nickname, whereas my Bible had my full name, and I was young for my grade.

I choose to believe it was not coincidence, even though they didn't realize the note was to me, and I didn't realize immediately that the note was from them. I choose to believe God was at work. Lindsey and Charlotte were truly saints in my life, even if everything they did seemed small at the time. The fact that this note was from two people who had been so much part of my idea of church strengthened my relationship with Lindsey and Charlotte, strengthened my relationship with scripture, and strengthened my sense of myself as a part of the congregation. This was a note that, though none of us initially realized it, built upon a relationship. It had roots, and it gave me roots.

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