Peter Sandstrom told me about this meeting approximately two months ago and asked me if I would be willing to share. "Think about it," he said, "and I'll check with you early in May." He did! I feel honored that I was asked to participate in a meeting such as this.
For the past several weeks, in our Adult Sunday School class, we have been studying and learning about Conventicles, Pietists and the influence of Pietism on the Evangelical Covenant Church.
When Peter started teaching, he was explaining Pietism and telling us about the philosophies of Spener, Rosenius and Arndt, to name a few. I looked over at my husband, Bob, and said, "What are we doing here?" As Peter patiently and enthusiastically moved through the chronology of Pietists, we recognized a familiar name, Martin Luther. Things began to click. Martin Luther's teachings and philosophy had been referred to often in sermons by our Pastor, when we were growing up. I found myself reflecting on my early Church life.
Groups of people met during the week to study the Bible, share faith, sing, and praise God! Children were invited and participated as "readers." My grandfather always explained scripture to us to ensure we understood what we were hearing and reading about. He always encouraged us to follow Jesus' teachings and example.
My grandfather was a mule trainer and travelled all over southeastern Iowa. He always carried a Bible in his pocket and could "hold Church" anywhere. He loved sharing the "Good News." When people told him they couldn't go to Church due to the distance - guess what? He "held Church" in barns, fields, houses or yards. When grandfather didn't have people around to preach to, he preached to the mules. He felt that was why they were so obedient to his commands.
Now, my father had a different experience with the mules. He said, "Dad, they are dumb and stubborn. Everyday about the same time they just walk out of the field and come home and I can't stop them." My grandfather said, "Son, I don't think they are dumb. The mules were leading you home - you weren't leading them." We learned a lot from grandfather's simple teachings.
In the Church I grew up in, our minister served two congregations. Eighty per cent of the worshipping congregation was family. My father's side of the family was very conservative, controlled and silent worshippers.
They sat on one side of the Church. My mother's side was very verbal, spontaneous and responsive during worship and sat on the other side. Our minister always received help and encouragement from them throughout the sermon. And me... I'm somewhere in the middle. I've often wondered if it's because I sat with each side of the family every other Sunday.
While returning to Minneapolis from Des Moines, Iowa, in March, our daughters asked me to tell them, again, about my childhood... "the old days." Just before we left Des Moines, we had attended Church with their grandmother. I had told them the worship service reminded me of the Church I grew up in. Later on, our oldest daughter, Phylis, said, "I think this poem sounds like what we were talking about." I believe it captures it quite well. I will read it in part. It is titled, "IT IS WELL."
The Baptist Preacher
fills the focus of attention
'green is everlastin' he says
he lifts his draped arms upwards
the fat sassy organ begins to wane
while up the center aisle
evergreen robed voices rock
and sway towards the pulpit
beyond / to the choir loft
they step step up higher
and finally pivot to face the people
a tamborine is raised
leather heels tap unconsciously
continually on polished oak floors
shouts of "amen" "well" "yes sir"
I smile to myself
from deep inside
sweet and warm thinking the words of a
"it is well
it is well
How did I get to the Covenant from that background? When we relocated to Minneapolis, we began searching for a Church. We attended several. We c hose Community Covenant as our Church because of the love of Christ extended to us from the very first time we walked through those doors. There is a sweet, sweet spirit in that place and I know it is the spirit of the Lord!
Thank you and God Bless you!