Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What is Your First Memory of a God-moment?

Earlier this week this discussion prompt was posted in a Facebook Group:
First memory of Jesus being a companion along your life's journey. GO!

It being my sincere conviction that one of the things that is missing in many of our churches is a practice of giving testimony, and also being sure that if testimony is going to happen those of us in leadership (paid and unpaid) need to step up and model that behaviour I knew I had to follow that prompt with this blogpost...

Now my theology (both theoretical and experiential) is much more Pneumocentric [Spirit-centered] than Christocentric [Christ Centered].  It always has been I realize in retrospect.  So I don't really think in terms of Jesus being a companion on my life's journey.  That is not my experience or understanding of God.  But I do have a really clear memory of the first time I remember feeling God's presence in my life.

Palm Sunday 1984.

For a number of years it was the habit in my home congregation to have confirmation services on Palm Sunday.  In the case of our confirmation class we prepared for the event with a closing retreat at a clubhouse facility in St. Albert.  On the Saturday we gathered, had some program (of which I recall almost nothing except for a meal of nations that we did not only there but also at a number of Youth Group events in later years) and then "slept".  I say it that way because once the leader was asleep the rest of us sat up and talked until he woke up and chased us back to bed -- after all we were all in our mid-teens.

For most of my life I have been an early waker.  And so it was that Sunday.  I woke before anybody else and went outside to wander around the attached playground.  This playground consisted of a number of large concrete tunnels and structures.  It was a misty morning and the mist around the structures in the early dawn light had a really eerie quality (potentially made more notable with 30 years of memory attached).  As I wandered around the playground I sang a bit and I prayed a bit.  Not formal prayers, just free-form vocal meanderings.  As a young adult I would find that this was my preferred method of personal prayer.

Something special was there that morning, in the mist and the dawning light.  Looking back I can safely say that the 1983-84 school year was one of the worst years of my life to this point in time (and I have no desire to have a worse one thank you very much). Every day at school was an experience in suffering (again possibly made worse with 30 years of memory).  But there were 2 places I had as refuge.  The church was one of those.  Every Thursday evening that year we met for Confirmation discussions, and it was a safe place.  That morning as I wandered and sang and prayed I knew that I was in the presence of the Holy One.  And it felt good and right.  I remember feeling a sense of peace that was very unusual for me in my then 15 years.

I have had that feeling many other times in the intervening years.  But that was the first.  And first times always stick in our memory.

What is your memory of your first time?

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