Written by Sabine Forsyth
I remember the Reverend Rongong warning me that most students who read theology at university tend to lose their faith entirely, or come out as a modern day prophet spreading the word of Jesus to everyone and anyone who will listen. I must say that after four years of studying, I count myself as the one that got away from that almost certain fate. I did however, experience similar phases along the journey. I found that the only way to avoid regular existential crises was to bypass all biblical courses and stick to religious studies and philosophy. My senior lecturer did not agree with my newfound approach.
‘It is impossible to ignore the bible in a theology degree.’ She shrieked. ‘It is central to our studies and it is where we find God!’
I felt almost bad for her. If she only finds God in the bible, then she isn’t looking very far. And no, I’m not talking about teleology and witnessing God’s wonder in the perfect curve of the waves or the intricacy of a fingerprint. I’m talking about acknowledging God’s presence in our everyday lives, experiencing God’s love and peace in the things that make us happy whilst listening for his guidance when we feel lost.
Nevertheless, I took her advice and visited many different churches in order to restore my faith. At first I thought I should find a church like Holy Trinity. After all, I love a traditional hymn and if the service doesn’t include the Nicene creed then I’m simply not interested. After much research and chatting to friends, I had found a church to visit. It turns out that the church (that shall not be named) was a little too traditional for me. Upon entrance, I was given a hat to cover my hair, nobody spoke to me and the whole service was in Latin. Notquite what I was looking for. OK – I had gone tootraditional. Holy Trinity was nothing like that, what was I thinking?!
My next approach was to find a church with a little moreyouth. I’d found a church thst seemed to fit the bill. The church was packed with people my age, everyone was super friendly and I felt like this could be it! The service wasn’t quite what I was used to but I felt welcomed and that was important. However, after a few weeks’ attendance they started to question my life choices and suggested I attended some extra classes to ‘bring me closer to Christ.’ Suffice to say, it wasn’t for me.
Nothing quite seemed to resonate with me quite like Holy trinity did. After all, I had been a member of HT since my baptism in 1995. Holy Trinity was and is a part of family. My mum had married there, my sister baptised and confirmed, and sadly my father’s funeral all took place at the very church that I would later confirm my own faith at the age of fifteen.
I chose my confirmation then because I actually knewwhat I believed. It wasn’t a given right of passage that I was pressured into, but a choice I made after a visit to Glenalmond youth camp, which in my opinion is one of the single greatest things the Scottish Episcopal Church has given to the world. You may think I am exaggerating, but I’m not. Once a year for a week, young people from around Scotland come together in faith. Regardless of gender, race or background; we are all one. We are taught to love unconditionally, but have self-respect. We are shown compassion and patience that we later mirror in our relationships. We laugh, play, tell stories and dance together but most importantly we learn to see God in the small things.
Upon leaving camp, it is common to feel full of the Holy Spirit, to pray everyday and to pledge loyalty to the 9am church service. But life gets in the way. Priorities change and soon the prayer book becomes a distant memory. I must admit, I have not yet found a church that feels like home and I should also admit that the occasional lie-in and events of a busy weekend tend to prevent me from finding, and yes, attending church.
However, the message of faith and of seeing God in the small things remains. God is in the moments of laughter with our friends that make our bellies ache. God is therewhen I watch a film that makes me cry or when I listen to music on the way to work.
I’m now in my second year of teaching religious education and I have just become a panel member for The Children’s Hearings Scotland where I regularly attend court and make life changing decisions for young people and their families. Personal faith does not interfere with either of these roles but the presence of God helps me to keep balanced and to work on my skills needed for the job. I am grateful for the part God plays, however big or small that may be. My story is a small part of Holy Trinity’s history and Holy Trinity is a small church in the worldwide congregation. But I find comfort in the small things, and it’s in the small things where we find God.
We hope ‘God and Me’ will become a regular article, would you be up for submitting your own? Holy Trinity has welcomed many people through our doors and has played a small part in people’s journey through faith. Either at the beginning, middle or end of their life’s, this series looks at those personal stories in some way linked with us, but who may have moved away, can’t attend as often or were just visiting.
If you would like to write an article of your own journey and where you are now in your life (spiritually/geographically/work wise or all three) or know someone who would, please send the article along with a high quality photo or two of something to represent you or your story to: ku.gro.hcruhcytinirtylohnull@rotartsinimda