4. 1967 ‘Cos you gotta have faith ….

Faith. Depending on the religion, faith is belief in a god or gods or in the doctrines or teachings of the religion. Informal usage of faith can be quite broad, including trust or belief without proof, and “faith” is often used as a substitute for “hope”, “trust” or “belief”. Some critics of faith have argued that faith is opposed to reason. (Wikipedia)

Knox Presbyterian ChurchAhuriri, Napier
Knox Presbyterian Church
Ahuriri, Napier

The Knox Presbyterian church was my spiritual home as a child.   It was there that my parents married, taught Sunday School, led Girls brigade and had positions of responsibility with Mum as an Elder and Dad as a Manager.   It was the place where I was baptised as a baby, learnt to sit still and took my first communion.  Knox Presbyterian church was where the country ladies introduced me to sponge cakes, pikelets, sandwiches, sausage rolls and humongous pots of tea.  The Jessops, Fairbrothers, Sullivans (or was it Halliburton?) and Cattenachs were big names in the parish as we participated in the picnics, fairs and camps.   It was a place of learning, good times and some of the toughest, saddest and most traumatic times of my life.   The funeral service for my beloved grandfather Dee was conducted here and I confronted death for the first time.

Over the years I gave my life to Jesus at many a revival and as I moved towns I found new spiritual bases.  I stayed Presbyterian for many years but also did a stint as a Baptist, an Anglican and a foot-stomping hand-clapping revivalist.   In each of these environments I believed,  I participated,  I taught Bible in Schools, I took my turn on the morning tea roster, I hosted home groups and I sang.   There were many dear people who took me along or who I met in these places of worship and they guided me, loved me and have remained lifelong friends whom I love dearly.  I know that through many of my darkest days the scriptures gave me comfort and strength.  When I was alone, the bible was a familiar friend.  it was actually a small New Testament given to me by Mum & Dad Phipps that was the only book in my possession for 18 months and it was my lifeline.  I know that when I was sick it was the ladies of the Baptist Church in Napier, rather than my doctor, that called an ambulance and got me to hospital in a critical condition.

So what of faith? Am I a ‘believer’.    I believe that there is more to ‘life’ than just getting to the end.   I want to believe that I will once again be reunited with my nearest and dearest after death.   Yet here I come unstuck.  What of those pious Christians who did wrong by me?  How can their God judge me?  What of my grandparents who were not “church” people?  They were good people, they loved me. they never broke any of the ten commandments – are they excluded from heaven?  Will they not be there to greet me?  If not…..what is it all worth?

A dear friend once told me I was one of the most christianly behaved people he knew even though I didn’t attend a Church.  He, being a Church Elder and Lay preacher, felt that the Church needed more people with my values and integrity.   But he didn’t judge me for my non attendance for he knew some of the hurts I had suffered.

 I learnt that while most Christians were well meaning, caring, honest people who wanted the best for others –  I also learnt of hypocrisy, pain, bigotry and fear – which I have never recovered from.   yet for all my personal pain I ensured that, as a mother, my children were afforded the opportunity to learn of Christianity and be involved in the full life of a home church.  I believe it is everyones right to choose but to do so you need knowledge of the options.  My children have made their choices. they are all good, moderate citizens of the world. They involve themselves in the betterment of the community and individuals through their everyday lives. None of them attend “church” yet I am proud of them all and I respect their beliefs, values and circles they mix in.

“If you don’t believe in something, you will fall for anything”   but whatever you do believe in…do so with your whole heart and mind and soul and being…for if you don’t have that level of commitment how can you say you believe.

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyingkiwigirl/

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