Going To Church

Every Sunday School attendance earned a stamp depicting a story from the Gospels.

Unless I was ill, I was expected to attend to church every Sunday, Holy Communion Service in the morning and Sunday school in the afternoon.  Dressed in my best clothes, hat included, I would sit in the second-back pew with my cousins.

The service followed the usual format of hymns, prayers, reading from the gospel and an incredibly boring sermon.  There seemed to be a lot of hellfire and damnation and not a lot of Christian loving and charity.  My attention would wander, and I was aware of the boys in the pew behind me.  Because I am called Joyce, when the word ‘rejoice’, appeared in the hymns they would yell the word in my ear.  I don’t think they paid much attention to the service.

Christmas services always seemed to have a different atmosphere, especially Midnight Mass.  There was always more joy and celebration.  Walking home after midnight on Christmas Eve I was always amused to see fathers trudging home with large, secret Christmas gifts such as bikes and dolls’ prams, which had been hidden at a relative’s house.

Sunday School was more enlightening and interesting because of the stories from the overseas missions.  It could also be very frightening.  I suffered from dermatitis on my hands which meant the skin flaked off.  After a story about lepers I was convinced I had leprosy until I held my hand under the hot water tap.  I could feel the pain, so it wasn’t leprosy – what a relief. Every Sunday School attendance earned a stamp depicting a story from the Gospels – I never did get a full album.

The only time I played truant from Sunday School and went with non-church-going friends to the local park, I fell crossing the stream and split my elbow, earning me several stitches and a good telling off.

However little attention I paid to the services, I did acquire a faith which is still strong, but I do not go to church.

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