by Lorraine Rothenburg, Pastor of Community Care & Assimilation
Recently, with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I went home to my old stomping ground to attend my 30th high school reunion (Darn, I just gave away my age – would you buy it if I said I was one of those super smart kids that graduated at 9?). In the car on the way over there, the butterflies in my stomach were dancing a polka, and my heart began to pound with the uncertainty of what it was going to be like to see these people again. Nervous thoughts raced wildly through my head, like “I should have lost 20 pounds for this. Will I recognize people? Am I recognizable? Will people talk to me, or remember me?” I was happy that I had strategized my entrance to this dinner event to minimize the awkwardness by meeting a friend/classmate at the door and walking in together. Safety in numbers, you know.
We met up, walked in, and much to my relief, were immediately recognized and warmly welcomed by those on the Planning Committee. On the nametag table was a giant photo of our class in 1980, and there I was in the front row with my friend in our mascot outfits complete with cat ears and a tail (Peter and Patty Panther). Around us in this picture were football players, cheerleaders, and others dressed in red and white; our colors proudly declaring our connection to our school.
That was the beginning of a really fun evening. By the end of it, I was somewhat sad to leave. You see, I share a history with these people. Some of us go way back to grade school. We have shared classes, teachers, events, memories and friendships. And every 10 years, we come together again, celebrate these things, “ooh” and “ahh” over how fabulous we look and then, the day after the reunion, we tuck ourselves back into our separate lives with some melancholy and longing for the next one…10 years and a lot of life from now. When we’re with each other, there’s a sense of “belonging” because we had our childhood and school experiences in common.
Church is like that in some ways. One of the joys of being “the church” together is experiencing that sense of connection and “belonging.” We have God and being His people in common. We share a history together filled with stories and experiences. And we get to have a reunion of sorts with each other every Sunday as we come to services, mid-week in our small groups where we celebrate God’s great story, and share our lives under the banner of Oak Hills Church. One of the ways we demonstrate our connection (wear our colors) in the church is through membership. We “put on the team jersey” when we declare our church as “home”; the people we are committing ourselves to, the church we are committing ourselves to love and be loved by, know and be known by, serve and be served by. Moving from “attender” to “member” is a person’s way of formalizing their commitment to the church as part of their journey of spiritual formation.
Several times a year, we hold membership classes followed by affirming these folks as members in one of our services. The next Member Affirmation will be October 10th. If you would like to become a member, or want to find out more about what that means and what the process entails, I want to invite you to come to our class this Sunday at 11 am in Room M-207 (upstairs). You’ll get lots of information (plus a decoder ring and the secret handshake – just kidding). Hope you’ll consider taking this wonderful step in your journey with us at Oak Hills!