We remember when the Beatles first crossed the ocean, and when the Beach Boys started surf music. We sock-hopped to Chubby Checker and slow-danced to “Theme from a Summer Place.” We know all about bobby socks, cruising, the twist, pompadours and low riding. And we remember where we were when we heard President Kennedy was shot. We were in high school in the early ‘60s and this weekend I will attend a roughly 50-year reunion of friends who were in high school graduating classes from around 1961 to 1966.
It’s not your typical reunion of a particular class from a particular high school. It’s a reunion from an era, and represents a number of high schools because it’s not a school reunion, it’s a church reunion – a church youth group reunion to be exact.
Obviously it was a pretty tight group to be still in touch in some form today. For many of us, our social life then revolved more around the church than the school. We got together regularly: twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday night with some kind of social gathering on Saturdays for a beach trip, roller skating, day in the park, pool party, volleyball and pizza in the church gym, or just hanging out at someone’s house. And then there were the camps – summer camp, winter camp, Easter week missions trip – these were seriously bonding times. One of our most popular regular get-togethers was at a sponsor’s home after church on Sunday nights for pizza and the Bonanza television series. And I’m sure if others could contribute to this article there would be many other things that stood out that I have forgotten.
I do remember we fell in and out of love numerous times – sometimes with the same person. I looked over the list and my high school sweetheart will be there, as will my fifth grade heart throb who gave me sweaty palms on the couples only skate on roller rink night. (I’m getting sweaty palms just thinking about this. Maybe I won’t go …)
Speaking of heart throbs, Marti will be attending with me and she had no part in this, nor did she experience anything like it, in that she didn’t become a Christian until the early 1970s. It will be a chance for her to get a slice of my life unknown to her.
And on the serious, more lasting side, our youth director and his wife will be there, and I anticipate an outpouring of love for this couple, because if most people are like me, these were the people who first got us excited about God. These are the ones who not only taught us, but showed us that Christianity was not just about the moral codes we all grew up with, it was about a living relationship with the living God. It wasn’t just about a social group having fun, it was about setting a course for the rest of your life.
That’s what will make this more than just your ordinary class reunion, for though I’m sure that we will laugh through much trivial nonsense as we remember the stupid things we did, we will also touch on something very deep – the beginnings of the spiritual journeys which we are still forging today.
That’s why I call this “Beginnings,” and I think it would be good if we could all stop and think about the people who first influenced our faith, and pray for them and thank God for them. Who knows where we would be today if they hadn’t been faithful.