Almost every Saturday evening, I go to the 5:00 service at my church. I used to attend the 8:30 service on Sunday morning, but trying to get the kids up and out the door when they were so weary became a struggle I wasn’t willing to fight anymore. That and it was nice to have an extra day of sleeping in and enjoying the nice, quiet slowness of a hot cup of coffee. Yeah, not rushing is a good thing.
I attend a fairly small church. The 11:00 Sunday service holds about 170 people which seems huge to me in comparison to the 20 whom attend the Saturday service. However, I have been in churches where the services held hundreds, maybe even a thousand people at a time.
I like my small church. I love the humbleness of the 5:00 service. The praise team generally consists of two people, one of whom is actually a bit tone deaf and has a tendency to sing out of rhythm with the other person. And I love it.
My brain is fuzzy (I had a hard, hard workout today and am feeling the effects of it right now) but I think that Jesus fussed about how obnoxious the Pharisees were with their public declarations of faith, loud prayers in the middle of the road, and their obnoxious self-aggrandizement as they donated money at the temple.
Now, flash forward about two thousand years and come to the little church at the corner where two roads meet. And this is where I worship along with a woman whose voice has a tendency to take on a country twang and a man who can’t sing but whose voice is truly a “joyful sound unto the Lord.”
I’ve been in churches where praise and worship were huge, magnificent spectacles that caused me to shiver with goose bumps because it was so beautiful. The choirs would sometimes be arranged in the shape of a cross and their voices would echo off the very gates of Heaven itself. The music was perfect; no instruments were out of tune. All strings were thrumming with the voices of angels. It was amazing, perfect, beautiful, and overwhelming.
I once was in a service in which people acted out the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Lovely white girls danced with scarves and the Jesus-man was surrounded by his faithful, loving worshippers who would later call for his execution. It was lovely, but I just started to notice that I didn’t really feel anything.
I don’t suffer from religion-apathy. I love God “with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength.” But I do suffer from religion-frustration. I have to confess, I have doubts which makes me feel guilty. I question God’s existence in one breath and then praise Him with the next. I question whether or not the inspiration I feel to do any one action may or may not be the urging of the Almighty or the Foolish and Lowly (me).
When I was in high school, I played with a ouija board and that stuff was real. Trust me. I know this personally. At one point, I tied wool scarves around the eyes of the people “on the board,” took the board off their laps, put the board back on their laps backwards to how it was sitting, and then put their hands on the oracle. That thing worked without a problem. And I have regretted my decision with that ever since because I had a one-on-one course with evil. Not fun.
So, if I believe in the concept of the spiritual realm and define it as evil, then I think I must believe in the opposite, and that is God. How I refer to Him and the name by which He is called, I wonder about. What is the name of the Lord? How do I know that it isn’t God or Bubba or Sally? I know that I am bordering on blasphemy which is not my intent (pardon me while I slightly shift over in case any lightning strikes or flying ice cream trucks head my way). The fact is, I wonder about the difference between the Jewish Jehovah, the Christian God, and the Muslim Allah. Does this make me bad? I hope not. I confess to feeling mildly guilty, but I also know that I don’t know and I want to know.
To bring this back to my wonderful church, I feel like I am allowed to have those questions there and they will be treated with respect and compassion. When Pat and I went through terrible times, I ran to church and told everything to my wonderful minister and held back nothing because I had no idea what was going to happen to me in the next five minutes or the next five years. But I knew I needed comfort and guidance and my minister and the little church where he serves was the perfect place for me.
I attend a church service that is humble but, to me, is the true meaning of worship and praise. You can not tell me that an old man who can’t sing but will stand next to a microphone and sing is not praising the Lord. I love singing and, sometimes, I can even hit a note. However, this wonderful man wearing a t-shirt and jeans is more real to me than any person donning perfectly pressed choir robes and emitting operatic arias. A vibrato is not going to get any person any closer to Heaven. At least, in the Bible that I have read, Jesus never said anything about warbling voices. He talks about the sparrows that fall, and I take a lot of comfort that God will know when I fall. Because I fall a lot. And I mean A LOT! Note, my name is gracelesscurran. It’s because I am clumsy.
Which is another thing, in this wonderful little church, I can be the clumsy me who has a tendency to make a fool of herself. I have led children’s church and made jokes that might not have been appreciated in the more beautiful and polished churches. But, I feel like my little church truly believes in the fact that judging just isn’t needed. To prove this, one member wears Hawaiian shirts and a fanny pack weekly. He said that the last time he wore a suit to church, a homeless man or a man who appeared to be impoverished came to church and sat in the very back. Throughout the service and especially during the meet-and-greet time, no one came and talked to the dirty-man, except my friend the Hawaiian shirt man. The dirty-man mentioned how my friend was the only person to speak to him and mused that maybe his appearance had something to do with the other people’s choices. My friend stopped wearing suits to church that day.
So, yeah, my church is humble and quiet and imperfect which makes it perfect for me. And if you ever need a place to feel at home, message me, write me a comment, or whatever. Trust me, you’ll fit right in.