Our girls have had their first experience with death this week. My paternal grandfather passed away on Tuesday morning at 87 years old. Pop lived a long, full life, survived by my grandmother, Antoinette, their six children, 20 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren.
Naturally, the girls have had a lot of questions. I’m doing my best to answer them clearly, consistently and respectfully. There is one question that struck a chord with me, and I thought maybe it was worth sharing. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Pop’s funeral is on Monday, while you girls are at school.
Girls: We aren’t going?
Me: No, I think it would be better if you didn’t go, but we will see all of the family on Sunday when we celebrate Pop’s life at Aunt Mary’s.
Girls: Why can’t we go to the funeral?
Me: Well, it’s not like a funeral at our church, it’s a Catholic Mass.
Girls: What’s “Catholic” mean?
Me: The Catholic Church is one denomination that believes in Jesus.
Girls: What’s “denomination” mean?
Me: (oh boy) That’s a good question, but kind of confusing…
A long time ago, people that believed in Jesus, started having disagreements about certain things, like how to act, eat, pray, how to baptize believers….and they decided to make their own separate groups, or “denominations.” There are Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics…
Lucy: Which denomination are we?
Me: We are Pentecostal.
Lucy: Was Jesus a Pentecostal?
If you know Lucy well, you know that it is very important to her that she be “right.” In this situation, “being right” means doing what Jesus did, believing what Jesus believed. And I love that about her, and I hope that this is always the case.
I tried my best to explain that Jesus isn’t concerned about which group or denomination we chose to be a part of, he just wants our whole heart. It is my belief that when Christians are more concerned with the rules, traditions and practices of their particular denomination, this grieves the heart of the Father. When we get to Heaven, there will be no denominational groups, this I am certain of. Nothing in the Bible points to this kind of segregation.
However, I do know that we will be asked to give an account of how we spent our time, resources, and knowledge. Essentially, we will be asked “Did you love others well?” Our Pentecostal Church is far from perfect, but one of the things I have always loved about our church is that you don’t hear or see “Pentecostal” when you’re in the building, you just see people trying their best to be like Jesus, honoring our Father in Heaven, and submitting to His Holy Spirit.