Joanne Jamis Cain is a steward of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. She has been married to the love of her life, Jim for thirty five years. They have two beautiful children and two grandchildren. Joanne is a wedding and event planner. Visit her blog at http://katherinesdaughter.com/. Her first book "Ordinary Is Extraordinary" was published in spring of 2016.
It’s Sunday morning. Maybe it’s raining outside. Maybe it’s a bit chilly. It’s a tempting thought to lay around in my pajamas, sipping coffee, and watching the Sunday morning news programs. When I was a young child, there was no such thing. It was church choir time, and we were there when the Liturgy began. Our clothes were laid out the night before, and we were bathed and ready.
As an adult, the temptation is great to stay home on Sundays. Why bother? I have to shower, get dressed, and drive thirty minutes one way. Some mornings it is an overwhelming thought to get ready. For a long time, when I was relatively absent from church, I told myself that time with my family, especially when we were outdoors, was spirituality. And it can be. Being outdoors, among nature, is especially meaningful to me.
But I have found I need more. At the Family Ministry Conference I attended this past September in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Steve Cristoforou said, “Disengaged adults create disengaged youth.”
I thought, “How true.”
My parents were in church every Sunday. My mother was active in the Philoptochos, my dad was on the parish council, and I have grown to be an active member of my own church.
They were not disengaged, and neither am I.
Finding Home in the Faith
Besides engagement, what does church attendance do for me? I will tell you. When I walk into the narthex, the first thing I do is light a candle. I think of someone who needs prayer or perhaps someone who has passed. I do my cross and kiss the icons. I am humbled to think that God is helping me daily with anything that I need. He is there for me. Being in church is my chance to center my prayerful thoughts for the week.
The familiarity of the songs and words of the Divine Liturgy bring me a restful peace. If I am troubled about something, I make an extra effort to be mindful of everything I see and hear. I’ve sung the songs since I was 10 years old, and they bring me great comfort.
I take my mother to church every Sunday, and though she does not hear or see well, her faith is strong. She believes deeply in the church and I honestly think her faith has carried her through some pretty tough stuff. I look around the congregation and know that this is my second family. No matter what, we are there for each other. Through thick or thin, we pray and support one another.
There is constant encouragement, love, and respect within my Orthodox community. Sure we can have our differences, but we go back week after week. We kiss the new babies, congratulate the newly wed, share coffee and donuts at the end of the service, and sell nut rolls for fundraisers. It’s all in the life of the church.
I love my church, and being active does something for me. It is not a social club. It is a place to thank God for all the blessings that have been bestowed on me. It is a place to worship, pray, and receive communion. It is sustenance for my week ahead.
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