I started attending a weeknight Bible Study at church. Suddenly, I figured out where the young people were. All the friends we've made at church have been of an older generation. Either through the couples-only supper group or through the choir, all the folks we spent our time with were just in a different stage of life. It was surreal listening to their stories and realizing they had whole other lives they'd already lived, in other places, doing other things. All their children were grown, which in my present state makes them seem like superheroes.
Sunday morning sees a pretty wide variety of ages in attendance, but there doesn't seem to be much intergenerational mingling. We saw that there were other people our age, but because we were involved in older people activities, we didn't interact with them. Until Bible Study.
Every other Wednesday we meet to discuss the scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday. In the Episcopal church, we have an official three-year calendar of readings. So each Sunday, we hear something from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the New Testament. Then the priest gives a sermon inspired by one of those readings. It's a pretty good system. It keeps the focus on scripture, while making sure that the whole book gets covered, rather than the same old favorites over and over again.
And it's predictable, so we can have a meeting on Wednesday night that talks about passages that will come up again Sunday. For the record, I also go to a Sunday school class that discusses the passages again. You'd be surprised, or maybe you wouldn't, to see how much variation can come from talking about the same short excerpts.
Anyway, Bible Study is a young folks activity, for those who consider thirty-year-olds young. It's mostly couples. Actually, it's all couples, except for me, because Josh has other obligations on Wednesdays. Some of the couples have children, and for them, childcare is provided in the room next door. There are usually snacks.
It's really, really nice to be around people my age. We have plenty of friends outside the church, mostly picked up in the orbit of Josh's band. But when we started going to church again, many of them thought we'd lost our minds. Me, I'd always intended to get back into the church habit someday. I'd had a pretty good experience in the church growing up, which I know is not the case for everybody. While I've definitely outgrown my childhood faith, I still feel very at home within that atmosphere. Josh wanted to go back so he could represent himself well to the preacher who was going to be marrying us, but he got sucked in by the nice people and the cookies and the singing and what some would call the Holy Spirit. We still have our old friends, and they just know that church is something we do, like some people are into hiking or poker. None of them seem to have any interest in that area, and that's fine.
But now we have young people church friends, and it's awesome to be at the same stage of life with people and also share this thing that we do. And we still have our older people church friends, too. So many friends!
Last week during Bible Study, one of the men excitedly held up a grainy black and white picture: an ultrasound. And there was a great swarm around them, high-fiving the beaming father and asking the mother how she was feeeeeeling (I refrained from asking this specific question, but found that I had no idea what to ask. Working on that). So there was their little bean, my much larger bean, plus another infant sucking from a bottle, and one more bouncing on dad's knee. Rather than looking at our older people church friends and wondering if we will ever make it to the other side of parenting, we will be making this journey along with our young people church friends.
What's more, our children will be growing up together. I do not know why that thought makes me happy, but it does. For me, both as a child and an adult, church has largely been about community. My baby will have a community just by being born - young people church friends and their parents, plus a whole choir full of extra grandparents. Lucky kid.