I was a busy-with-church Episcopal kid, a virulently disinterested non-church agnostic adult and then caught on with the evangelical Jesus thing in my late 40s.
For the most part, I haven’t missed a church service or a weekly Bible study in 14 years, or an “In Spirit” column deadline for almost nine.
What happened? Did I lose my mind? Get hit by holy lightning? Jump, shout and convulse with the sudden indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Nah … nothing like that.
I’ve told this story before, and I’ll tell it again because it’s very nearly my all-time favorite story. One evening in August of 2001, a few days after his 8th-grade school year started at Carmel Clay Junior High, my then-13-year-old son Eric calmly asked at the family dinner table, “Why don’t we go to church?”
Consider, Carmel has two enormous, vibrant Catholic parishes; plus a half-dozen of the largest protestant churches in Indiana are either in or very near Carmel. With tons of educated parents with money who are raising their children together, Carmel fits, and is, the broad-brush, demographic picture of a church-going community.
So of course kids on Carmel school buses chatting about life, chat about church. Encountering the topic among friends, Eric wondered why we didn’t go. So that night at dinner, he asked. Mom and Dad, encountering a young teenager so obviously expressing an interest in church, were stuck for an answer.
As it happened, Eric’s Aunt Julie (his mom Jean’s sister) was a fervent Christian looking for a new church. While we at that point failed to understand Julie’s faithful fervor, we nonetheless appreciated her help identifying a church. Julie lived near Lawrence North High School, we lived in southeast Carmel, and a big church conveniently located halfway between was East 91st Street Christian Church.
Jean did “recon” one week, and the next Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001, we took our sons Eric and John (age 9) to church. The “E91” youth ministry downstairs was warm and inviting, and we headed to the “big service” upstairs.
Sitting near the back, I was nonplussed by the unusual (for a former Episcopalian) modern music, unstructured worship and free-form prayer. Then a guy named Russ Blowers, that very day celebrating 50 years of ministry at E91, got up and started preaching 1 Corinthians 13 and the truth of divine love.
And I realized: this truth wasn’t about me, it was about Jesus Christ.
And surprisingly, softly, and as privately as I could, I started crying.
In a good way.
Walters (email@example.com) eventually noticed something missing from both the old church and the new. That’s next week. E91 is located where LNHS originally was going to be built.