Part of the answer to this – which is a HUGE question – is because I met Brian (now my husband). As in so many of the gospel accounts, it was seeing something in another person that opened the way to discover Jesus for myself.
I was born just before the end of the war, and like many children of that era was sent to Sunday School – partly as a way for my widowed mother to get some peace and quiet during the only time off that she had! So I started in the babies’ class, and worked my way up over the years until, as a ‘top junior’ at primary school I was also in the top class at Sunday School. This was held in the vestry at church, not in the church hall as the other classes were. We had the liturgical year explained to us, and the colours that went with it. We learnt about the different parts of the church – font, lectern, pulpit, altar etc.
We then began to study the catechism. We were told this was in preparation for being confirmed, though I don’t recall anyone ever explaining what confirmation was, or meant. But then, I never remember being taken to an actual service in church either. It had all been Bible stories during Sunday School, but never how and why people believed in Jesus today.
Wondering what this ‘confirmation’ thing was, I read through the service in the prayer book. The Sunday School teacher was a bit taken aback when I said I would not be confirmed – that I could not stand up in church and say I believed in all these things when I had no idea if I did or not. It would be lying, in public and before God. And that was more or less it, for the next seven years. Church had nothing to offer me except confirmation.
At secondary school we did have assembly, and RE lessons. The latter, when we got to the 6th Form, were based round a BBC Schools Broadcast (RADIO in those far off days) and were designed to stimulate discussion. The only problem was that the handful of girls who were Christians never said anything: we ended up choosing one or two other girls each week to take the Christian viewpoint so that we could have a discussion. But I felt that their Christianity wasn’t worth much if they were unable or unwilling to speak up for it.
I went to Liverpool University, and met Brian on one of the field trips the Geography Department organised in the first term. We met up a couple of times, but I was surprised at his response when I suggested doing something the following Sunday – he said he couldn’t, because he would be at church.
He was the first person I had met in years who chose to go to church. What did he see in it? Why did he go? So I said I’d go along with him to the Evening Service. And I found other people there who had ‘got’ Christianity, who had a faith that clearly mattered to them, as it did to Brian.
And that was the start of a journey that has just got more and more interesting, exciting and challenging the longer I have lived.
Deirdre and Brian both attend St John’s, Wakefield