PAY TO PRAY?!?!?
Growing up, I can’t recall one Sunday I wasn’t in church, attending Sunday School, singing in the choir, performing in THE MESSIAH at Christmas Time. I was a loyal member of First Christian Church.
After marrying and changing my “church home” to that of my husband’s….I was just as loyal to the Central Presbyterian Church. But now I was older and my eyes/ears were becoming more aware of those around me. It was apparent that some believed just being there... every time the church doors opened….made them a Christian.
I experienced a father-in-law who appeared sanctified because, Sunday after Sunday, he sat in the same pew, under the same stained-glass window---paid for by his father----and sang from the family's personalized hymnbook. I never saw him share his time or money with others and yet….a favorite song of Christians says “You will know we are Christians by our love.”
The church secretary, another “lifer” in the church, was a married mother of four, a regular choir member, and, for a while, seemed a true friend. After learning she was having “afternoon delights” at the apartment of one of my young and single-doctor friends-- while telling her husband she was at my house--I ended that church connection. Aren't Christians suppose to live as examples for others?
Another eye-opener was the church minister. He insisted on dropping by my house in the early days of my divorce, wanting to console and counsel me. Don't most women see their preachers as saints rather than people? Certainly, I never “saw” any minister as sexy or handsome or…."appealing”. Anyway, this particular “man of god” attempted to hug me, kiss me, during a so-called counseling session. He even suggested that “exposure” to another man could provide the confidence I needed to make-it through the divorce. If you can’t trust “God’s Spokesman”….who can you trust?
Nine years ago, after relocating to Arkansas and feeling alone, I attended church on two different occasions. Both times, the sermons were about money.... about tithing; about sharing your wealth with the church; about God loving a cheerful giver. It was only after receiving a letter in the mail, asking me to sign a monthly, monetary pledge card to the church....that I ended my relationship with organized religion. I knew how to praise and worship God. I knew exactly how to find God without buying a ticket!
I could go on and on….citing incidents that opened my eyes to what was real and what was mystic and ritual. Everything I experienced through the years helped me find God--- in me….not in fancy buildings, or pledging money, or with groups labeled as Christians. Yes, God lives in my heart. I worship him all through the day and….not just on Sundays.
In 1989, shortly after receiving official permission to travel the length of The Great Wall of China, I was inspired to write a prayer and set it to music. I sing it daily, along with my favorite hymns...for free. I honor God….who lives and walks with me every minute, of every day, and I'd like to share the words to my song, with you:
“Thank you, God….for making life possible, Thank you, God…for being my friend.
Thank you, God, for giving such meaning to my life from now ‘til the end.
Thank you, God…for loving me constantly, Thank you, God…for the songs in my heart….
And may each thing I say, and each thing I do, be my way of showing how much….I Love You."