Thursday, July 3, 2008

Church

Last Sunday, for the first time ever in my life, I went to church. As I've explained, this is a Big Deal. I'm not even 100% sure whether or not I'm ready to write about it, but what the heck. So far all my leaps of faith have landed encouragingly.

Strictly speaking, I did go to church once before, two Sundays ago. I had gone online and found an appealing website, stating that this church welcomed everyone in the community, of all cultures, and offered "lively musical worship". I expected that I might have to try out a few different congregations before one clicked for me, but this seemed like a good place to start.

The website noted that the Sunday service started at 11:00 am. Ken decided that he would come with me. So up we got on Sunday morning, dressed ourselves respectably, and arrived at the church around 10:50 am.

A Korean language service was already in progress, so we tip-toed around the foyer, picking up booklets from a wire spinner and generally being nosy. As the minutes passed and 11:00 grew closer, I started to wonder why no one else was gathering for the 11:00 am English service.

Answer: There wasn't one.

These people really need to update their website. Their completely English website.

*sigh*

So we hopped back in the car and went downtown for brunch, a walk in the sun, and raspberry gelato in Little Italy. After that I didn't feel so bad.

Next time I picked out a promising church, Ken ran a reconnaissance mission. He actually stopped in and spoke to one of the pastors. Pretty darn nice of him, considering that this whole Christianity thing is my obsession, not his. He didn't want me to be disappointed.

He brought home a glowing report of a beautiful, brand-new church building, and a friendly, genuinely sweet pastor. I was psyched.

This past Sunday, ten minutes before the service was schedule to start, we ran out the door, sweating in our proper clothes and dodging the raindrops which were just starting to fall. We live just a few blocks away from this church, well within walking distance. We sprinted most of the way there, so fearful were we of being tardy and receiving disapproving stares.

We needn't have worried. People were drifting in and getting settled in the padded pews for a good ten minutes after we pulled up at the door. A white-haired man greeted us and passed us a leaflet. We picked a strategic spot to one side, perfect for a quick getaway if things got dicey. Don't ask me what we were afraid of - it was just the unknown, I guess.

It was all good. We sang songs, the lyrics projected onto a screen overhead. The service was inspiring. It was based on the story of Exodus, which I am familiar with from my family's Jewish Passover services. That went a long way towards making me feel at home.

I found out that the pastors like to be addressed informally, by their first names. Anyone present is invited to take communion, not only those who have been baptized. It's a very friendly church. Apparently there's usually a Tea Social after the service, but it's been suspended for the summer months. Anyway, we were stopped by several people on our way out who just wanted to introduce themselves, welcome us, and encourage us to come back.

All in all it was a heart-warming experience. Coming from me, this is shocking. I'd never in a million years have predicted that I'd turn into a church-goer. But there it is. I'm already looking forward to next Sunday.

11 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Glad you could find a friendly community in which to explore and experience things :)

Jenski said...

That is wonderful you found a place you are comfortable returning to on your first church visit (well, second, I suppose). It is always unnerving partaking in religious ceremonies with which you are not familiar. Congratulations!

unsigned said...

Must have been a blessing!

jameil1922 said...

i'm mentally jumping up and down. YAY!! there's nothing like finding a good church. the search can be AWFUL, harrowing and discouraging. a korean language church w/o saying that on the site? i mean come on. churches def. need to step it up on the technology. you know the issues i've had w/church websites!! what religion is ken?

Keera Ann Fox said...

The no-English-spoken-here service gave me a good laugh. Anyway, you're lucky to live in a country where you can church-shop. Norway's rather limited in that way. It's a good thing I don't need church.

Aurora said...

Churches are very welcoming friendly places in my experience. I hope you keep experiencing that warmth.

Karen said...

That is awesome. Some churches can be not so welcoming. I am also glad Ken is so willing to take this journey with you.

girlinterrupted1218 said...

I think your spiritual search is truly an awesome one! I'm glad you found a welcoming church.

Dianne said...

the service sounds lovely and how cool is it that you're looking forward to going back!

I'm happy for you. and I'm looking forward to hearing more about the church.

Sparkling Red said...

Thanks for all your encouragement! :-)

In answer to Jameil, Ken does not practice any official religion. However, he does believe in a higher power and has had experiences which he describes as spiritual. He does intend to come to church with me every week, but I don't know if he'll ever call himself a Christian, or an anything. We'll see. Whatever he chooses is fine by me.

Nilsa S. said...

As a non-practicing Jew, I will admit there are a lot of religious services I've been to that just feel good. In a synagogue. Catholic church. Presbyterian church. United Church of Christ Church. And a new agey church. The feeling of community. Of belonging. Of having a belief in what's being discussed. How can you not feel good after that? I think it's great you walked away with that feeling and hope there are many more weeks like that to come. BTW, the fact that Ken is so 100% supportive of you during this time says a lot about him. He definitely didn't sign up for it, but it's quite clear he loves all of you. Yay!