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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What's Buggin' Me About Church

I enjoy going to church.

Years ago, J started going to a church in Sanford, about 20 minutes or so from home. The youth group was hoppin' and I've always said that a church is only as strong as it's nursery (or youth department). I attended another church, one J had been baptized into, but slowly made my way to the church in Sanford where I found friendly, God-fearing, God-loving people.

Then the "J" story happened and, for nearly a year, I couldn't bring myself to go back. I felt like people were looking at me, judging me on the lies "J" had told and the sickness that had overcome us. Little by little, however, I eased back in and then, one day, the Women's Sunday School leader called me and asked me to join their class.

I consented, went back, and have enjoyed a fairly regular attendance since (when I'm not traveling).

So, yesterday I went to church. First to Sunday school, which I enjoyed as always. I love the ladies in the group and somebody (I don't know who) can make a really nice pot of coffee, of which I always have a cup. In this class, we sit around tables draped with pretty cloths. Candles flicker in their centers and, over on a table, a scented candle sends out a delightful, spicy scent. We learn about God, we talk about His awesomeness, and we pray.

When Sunday school was over, I gathered my Bible, my journal (for note-taking, as our pastor is a good teacher!), and my purse. A "hello" to this person, and a "Hi, how are you" to that person and I made my way into the sanctuary.

Our sanctuary serves both as a place for worship and a recreational room. In other words, you can look down at the floor and see the lines for a basketball court and up and see the hoops. It's in this room we offer "Upwards Basketball" as an outreach to the community. But on Sunday, we gather to worship, to pray, to learn.

When I was a little girl, I went to a formal church. On Saturday nights my hair was rolled into sponge curlers so I'd look "pretty"--as my mother put it--for Jesus. For a good part of my early years, I wore frilly underwear, dresses with petticoats, white frilly socks and black Mary Janes to church. As I got older, that changed, including the curlers in my hair on Saturdays, but one thing never changed. The respect I showed the room I entered. This was "God's house."

Over the years I have worshiped in school auditoriums, formal churches both large and small, a former roller skating rink, storefront churches, home churches, and cathedrals and synagogues. Never have I brought food and drink to any of those services.

Yesterday I found it a bit disconcerting that several people walked into the sanctuary/basketball gymnasium with bottles of water, cups of store-bought coffee, and car mugs filled with I don't know what. Yes, I know the weather had dipped down to the 60s and, for Florida, that practically calls for fires in the fireplaces, but seriously? Isn't it enough that we don't really "dress up" for God any more? Yes, I've been known to wear jeans--albeit dressy ones--but coffee??? Furthermore, if we're going to bring beverages into the sanctuary of God, shouldn't the liquid be made of grapes somehow? And shouldn't peta bread be served alongside said beverage?

Okay, so while I'm on a roll, here's the other thing that kinda bugged me. I'm not a great singer (believe me!) and I really only kinda whisper during praise and worship (so as not to bother the others who may be int he midst of worship), but I do like to listen to the voices of others, especially when they sing well. What I don't like to listen to is the chit-chatting of others while I'm trying to bask in the Spirit. Whisper-whisper-whisper. What in the world is so important that you cannot wait one short hour? What do you have to say to the person in front of you (and not a short conversation, mind you) and beside you that is more important than what the Spirit is trying to say to me?

Well now. I got that off my chest didn't I?

What are your thoughts? Noticed anything going on in your church buildings lately that make you go, "Hmmm?"

5 comments:

  1. not mine...but I've visited churches that are black as dark, with the stage hi-lighted. A rock band appears and smoke billows from the stage. Feels more like entertainment or a rock concert to me. Don't like it.

    Those things you mentioned bother me, too. Thought I was the only one...

    I love the worship service at our Messianic synagogue - which is a combination of Davidic praise and dancing, and the formal Hebrew liturgy and Torah study. It's unique and unlike any I've been to before.

    Remember the old song "Different Strokes for Different Folks"? I guess it applies here, too.

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  2. I don't like to see beverages brought into the sanctuary, it's supposed to be a holy place. Some of our worship team wear jeans and shirts not tucked in, kinda sloppy I think.

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  3. I don't expect things to stay the same, but (you knew there was a but coming, didn't you?) I really don't like reading song lyrics off the wall. There's just something so wonderful about standing together with my church family and singing together from the hymanl....that dear Baptist hymnal with all those beloved old hymns... sigh

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  4. Yes, things change and these days things change at warp speed. I-pads, I-phones, hymns on the wall and yes, the way worshippers dress.

    I'm a member of a congregation that was formerly so rigid, newcomers or 'those' people were made so uncomfortable that a few visits was more than plenty to discourage them.

    Many bring water into the sanctuary; unobtrusively. We also use 'wall lyrics' (hymnals are available on/near each seat and some use them); our singing is outstandingly beautiful as well as moving/inspirational...bliss!

    I'm old now but you know, I've learned to deal with changes/differences/likes/dislikes. It's about relationships...and wanting to be like HIM. It's what's in our hearts...and how I worship Him.

    By the way...I'm glad I discovered your site...see 'ya!

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  5. Cute grandson...Like scads of others? I have a blog...
    http://www.vascasbalancedheart.blogspot.com

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