The first two posts of this blog covered the first 57 years of my life in broad strokes. Early on I was intrigued with the idea of the unity of the body of Christ, His Church. Throughout the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and know other Christians who did not come from my particular ecclesiastical pedigree. It was an enriching experience, but it also brought up a lot of questions. How could we read the same Bible and yet differ on some very significant doctrines of the faith? Did it matter? And if it didn’t, why did we tend to hold each other at arm’s length?
I count it a blessing that I grew up in a Christian home and that there is a heritage of faith on both sides of my family. My parents met at Frankfort Pilgrim College and High School in the early 1950s. At the age of six I distinctly remember praying at the altar of the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Clinton, Pennsylvania to invite Jesus into my heart. My desire to follow my Lord never abated even with the ups and downs of adolescence.
As a kid I had a visual image of the church as a train. In my mind those closest to the truth of Christ found themselves in the engine, where I knew I was with my family. Each succeeding car had churches that differed in greater degree to what I knew to be the pure truth of the gospel. What is amusing is that 40+ years later I shared this image with a friend who grew up in the Plymouth Brethren, a very distinct church from mine, and he too had the image of the train, and of course his church was in the engine!
A few mornings ago in my quiet time before the Lord I had a flashback of a song I learned when I was a child, no doubt the same song my friend sang in his childhood:
We’re going to a mansion on the Happy Day Express;
The letters on the engine are J-E-S-U-S;
The guard calls, “All for Heaven?” We gladly answer, “Yes!”
We’re going to a mansion on the Happy Day Express.
Somehow I took those words and imagined different levels of truth and closeness to Jesus. This image was challenged as I got to know other Christians from other traditions.
All that to say that two weeks ago yesterday Charlotte and I were received into the Roman Catholic Church at the parish of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Inwood, Manhattan, New York City. Now I find myself among those for whom I hadn’t made any room for as a child on the Happy Day Express.
How did I get here? Stay tuned!