Church signs and maybe's

I LOVE TO READ church signs—the ones that make you think twice, and then you grin. In the town I'm from, some of these are in Spanish, some in English. Sometimes they have a few letters missing here and there. One such sign caught my eye: "CH _ _ CH." When read on, I realized the missing letters were left out deliberately. It continued, "not complete unless U R in it."

When "R U" in church anyway? Is church a place you get to by going through a door? Who else is in it? Can it get too full—or too empty? What does church do?

At Sunday School when I was about five, we learned a little rhyme where we held our fingers a certain way and moved them around to match the words: "Here's the church and here's the steeple; open the door and there're all the people." To me at that age, church meant dressing up on Sunday morning in my fanciest (read scratchiest) clothes and patent leather shoes, going to a white, wooden building where we were grouped with other children our own age, and listening to a grown-up who used felt-board pictures to illustrate the Bible stories she told. "The Good Samaritan" was my favorite story. It made me think that if I were ever alone and got hurt, some kindhearted person would come and help me. And it made me think I could even be a good Samaritan. I thought about those Bible stories a lot.

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November 11, 2002

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