why i go to church
by robin tanner
i learned at an early age to come to expect something out of church, especially since i was attending three hours of church every sunday, at least one of those hours would serve as free entertainment.
sundays also represented, and yes i’ll admit it, illegal shopping* with my family in church attire. every now and then on the way home from the chapel my dad would suddenly exclaim “it’s pulling me in!” he’d have us believe that an unseen force had taken control of the vehicle, and, despite his best efforts was turning the steering wheel. the “it” would usually be a circle k or 7-11. we’d eagerly wait in the car as my dad went in and bought a sunday paper as well as a thristbuster, from which we’d partake when he wasn’t looking. other times the “it” was lunch. either taco bell or church’s chicken. (one could argue that it was completely respectable to dine at an establishment named church’s.) it wasn’t until i was much older that i realized you could order something other than crunchy tacos. my dad aways spoke on behalf of the car and got a family pack.
while in middle school i realized we weren’t the only ones spending a long time at church. it all started when i was invited to missy gruber’s bat mitzvah. she explained to me that the service started at 9am but that her part wouldn’t be until 11 so i should just come at 11. when my mom got wind of this plan she wouldn’t allow me to go two hours late! so she dropped me off at temple beth el just before 9.
missy’s family was shocked to see me, especially since i was the only non-gruber there. i remember standing and sitting, talking in hebrew, singing in hebrew and some more standing and sitting. about an hour in, missy’s grandma commented on what a reverent young lady i was. i said i was used to three hours of church and she nodded knowingly. all the other friends showed up a little while later just in time to see missy do her part from the torah. all the sitting, standing and hebrew was worth it… later that night i won a timmy t tape.
going to church in college was a whole different ball game. at byu only about 1% of the student body is not a member of the church. that means church is held in almost every building on campus. my sophomore year i met in the smith field house. we had sacrament meeting in a ballet room. all sorts of “checking-out” went on with that ballet mirror! if you planned your seat just right you could use the mirror to your stalking advantage!
once, while on my mission in brazil, leaders attempted to cancel church half way through on account of a big soccer game… GOL!
sundays definitely represent the unexpected. in my dc congregation one family was notorious for not giving their newborns a name until the baby was blessed** … and the names that were declared during this time were extremely non-traditional names. as you can imagine we eagerly awaited these moments, sitting on the edge of the pew with our arms folded and one eye opened.
for my little sister… sunday means dodging the creepy stares of a kid who sits with his family directly in front of mine.
and for me, today, sunday meant trying not to laugh out loud.
some of our favorite kids tried to crawl away from their parents and dispose of their church snack on the carpet. (i think christian was hoping they would have shared with him!) last week a dad ran out with a screaming two year old. and a few months ago my friend tried to cup her little girl’s mouth as she shouted “i’ll NEVER stop talking!” (all of these are faithfully recorded in christian’s journal) but kids aren’t the only source of laughter. today a speaker*** divulged a little too much. he spent a long time discussing how he still smokes and then ended by saying a prayer, in which he promised god he’d stop smoking. just so you know, it isn’t customary to end talks with a prayer nor is it customary for mormons to smoke. just so you know.
oh, i also go to church because i believe it’s true, even with all the craziness!
*we believe in keeping the sabbath day holy, this means we avoid spending money or recreational activities that would detract from the day.
**a baby blessing is similar to a christening. the baby can be a few weeks or months old. the baby is officially given a name and blessing pertaining to her/his future life. it is in the form of a prayer. this is not the same as baptism. we are baptized by immersion usually at the age of 8.
***we have a lay ministry and a bishop presides over a congregation. each sunday members of the congregation are asked to speak during the service (anywhere from 2 – 3 speakers)