Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mother

"But as it is now our purpose to discourse of the visible Church, [518] let us learn, from her single title of Mother, how useful, nay, how necessary the knowledge of her is, since there is no other means of entering into life unless she conceive us in the womb and give us birth, unless she nourish us at her breasts, and, in short, keep us under her charge and government, until, divested of mortal flesh, we become like the angels (Mt. 22:30)." - John Calvin

On th 8th of August 2012 at 9:01, I walked in the the large and empty Anderson Auditorium at Montreat Conference Center with my wife.  I walked back to the pew in the middle of the auditorium where 38 years before at this very hour on this very day my life changed and I shared the story of the moment with her.  And there in that darken auditorium the days from those years so long ago seemed so close and real to me.

On the 8th of August 1974 at 9:01, Richard Nixon, the President of the United States, began "Good evening. This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest..."

At the end of the speech, the youth conference leader stood before the group of over 1,000 youth and read, "...then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the alter with a pair of tongs.  The Seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out."  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"  And I said, "Here am I; send me!"

In those last few words my life goals changed.  As I walked out the auditorium that night 38 years before all I knew was that I wanted to serve God with all my life.  The conference had been life alterning in so many ways.  At this I realized who I was and who I was going to be, had all been nurtured in me by my "mother."  The church was my mother.  The Presbyterian Church who had raised my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents back centuries had now given birth to me.  It had given me nurture and faith in Christ.  And it was something that was bonded to me forever.

That following week in 1974, I walked into my parents bedroom one morning around 10 and found my mother seated in a rocking chair reading her Bible and devotional.  As she looked up she asked me to come sit beside her.  As we sat there in the room, I shared what I had experienced and I thought I was going to be a minister.  Her response to me was that it was going to be a hard life, but if that was where I was to go, she and Dad would support me.  Those words were the only words of affirmation that I needed.

My mother who had given birth to me, who nurtured me, and helped me grow into the young man I was becoming, believed in me enough to let me walk where and when I needed to go.  Now 38 years latter, I am who I am because of her nuture and love.  And I am who I am becuase of the nuture and love of hundreds, if not thousands of fellow Presbyterians and Christians.

John Calvin was right to say that the Church is our mother.  It is in her walls and rooms, that we find support and hope to live our lives.  Yes, many times I have been anger at her and disagreed with her.  But we are family and you don't walk away from family.