Moving and Church Traditions

Moving and Church Traditions

We were watching the evening news when all of a sudden we remembered it was Ash Wednesday. A commentator was still wearing his ashes as he went about his work. But at some point in the day, he took time out of his day to participate in a religious practice.

My next thought was one I admit I’ve had more than once, does our current church have an Ash Wednesday service?

Since marrying we’ve attended several different churches. Some were non-denominational. One was First Christian, another Free Methodist. We’ve attended Baptist churches, Church of God, and Vineyard.

Each church has its own traditions and services they do and do not incorporate into their yearly schedules. For families who have spent years in those churches, they build family traditions around those traditions. But, for our family, we are always playing catch up.

If we do happen to hear the announcements and attend a special service such as Ash Wednesday, Easter or Christmas we are still often just as lost as first-time attendees figuring out where to sit and whether our kids are supposed to stay with us or head to their regular spaces.

Communion is another religious practice we find ourselves fumbling through the first few months with every move. Is the bread/cracker gluten free? Do we take both the sacraments together? When they say “on your own” does that mean right away or after a time of prayer?

I felt a twinge of guilt when Ash Wednesday passed without much of an acknowledgement from our household, but that guilt didn’t come from ignoring a family tradition or depriving our boys from an experience at church.

That twinge of guilt was the awarness that this is one more thing to add to the list of experiences that are not consistent for our kids. Moving means finding new churches in new communities.

While it is true people switch churches all the time without moving, these transitions mostly happen on the family’s terms and timing. When you move to a new community you are not guaranteed you will have the same denominational choices to visit let alone settle into for new church homes.

Especially in small towns, you worship where you can, which means going along with the church’s philosophy about how often to serve communion and when to do so as well as which holy days to celebrate.

I am so thankful for the different churches we’ve worshipped in and the people we have met. My faith has grown in amazing ways as we’ve experienced many people of faith worshipping in their own ways. I’ve had to learn to push the guilt away and accept that when our kids are older they will decide for themselves what their church traditions will be, thankfully, it’s never too late to explore a new church denomination.

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