Monday, August 6, 2012
'Sunday go to meeting' visit...
There is so much to reflect about lately. Today, however, I visited a new church. I found this experience fascinating and upon this I will elucidate.
My spiritual background is quite varied but one thing is for certain, I am a believer in Abba, Father; Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Friend.
As an infant, I was christened into the Methodist Church. Later as a child, I was sent to an Episcopalian school and attended a Presbyterian Church. Sometime after, I met and married a Baptist and the rest is history ;) Upon this journey, I have also had occasion to visit and worship in Catholic and Pentecostal Churches as well. Thus, my experience with 'religion' in the denominational sense is quite varied.
I long ago decided that much of what divides our congregations is not the scripture or the beliefs about who God is and what He has done for us, but rather how we study, praise and share about Him....
Today was no exception. I visited an Apostolic Lutheran Church. Now, my first misunderstanding occurred as I 'assumed' that this was a branch of the local Southern Lutheran Church.
Now, being from down south, I will openingly admit that we are a interesting people, with a unique and admirable culture. Friendly, open, country, and stubborn, we can talk to a lamppost, and more often than not, get a response! Yep, Southerners have been blessed with the gift of gab. Check it out, it's right in there with all the other spiritual gifts.
Southern Baptists widely believe that we will need to carry a covered dish to get into Heaven where our regular pew will be waiting on us. Children will be in 'children's church' so as not to disturb the adult's service and we will celebrate the Lord's Supper once a quarter.
The choir will be at the front of the sanctuary singing "How Great Thou Art" and we will stand and sing, sit and pray, stand and sing till the preacher ends with a call to worship. Everyone goes down to the front to repent, while we sing the last stanza over and over. Now mind you, all this has transpired in 59 minutes and 30 seconds because at 12:00 noon we will go home eat a lovely 'Sunday' dinner.
Sunday nights we go back to do it all again to help us make it till 'prayer meetin' on Wednesday night. You gotta love Southern Christians... and I say this with all due respect. Please do not think because I can poke fun at our spiritual 'traditions' that I do not admire and respect them. Let me point out though, these are merely traditions, for the real Christian these are the 'trappins' of faith. Real faith is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, our Savior.
This Sunday the sanctuary was simple and beautiful in its architecture. The doors at the front of the church opened out to a shaded parking parcel and a green, canopied playground. Everyone was kind and the preacher spoke from the heart. I felt the Spirit of God. Children were everywhere and I loved this. They talked and played quietly during the service and parents were not constantly shushing them. It was a beautiful family worship. I would have loved this when my children were younger.
Everyone was also very conservative in their dress. Now as a southern lady I am pretty conservative but my mama taught me you are not dressed till your hair is done and there's makeup on your face. Well, imagine my surprise when 75% of the congregation had dresses down to their feet, no makeup and long hair in buns. Well, I want to admit to you right here and now that I felt like Jezebel for sure, either that or Rahab the harlot.
Now I want to hasten to add that everyone was kinda quiet but real sweet. I did have a handful of people speak to me and invite me back. And I might go back too...maybe. One thing that I have noticed is that most of us don't like to stand out. We are more comfortable blending in. This is often what makes visiting churches difficult. Just as every community or area of the country has its own culture so do churches.
Well, in the words of Forrest Gump, "That's about all I have to say about that...". Till next time, Jezebel is signing off and out.