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I didn’t throw up on Easter!

Oh dang, that’s not true. Come to think of it I did, behind the shed after driving home from church. Riding in the car is especially nauseating to me for some reason.

We are attending Advent Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Forest Hill, MD, and it’s really amazing how going to a good church can make you feel at home. My theory on what constitutes a “good” church:

1)Christ centered doctrine which relies upon the longstanding (and Spirit-filled) traditions of the church “catholic” to understand what the Bible is saying. By “catholic” I mean universal; the things we as orthodox, old school christians all agree on. Trying to reinvent the wheel, as many non-denominational churches do, seems very unnecessary when you dig into the many ancient traditions of the church and find out how rich and relevant they are. But of course a “traditional” church that has hollowed out their doctrine to be culturally hip doesn’t count (I’m talking about you ELCA!), because tradition without Christ-as-King over it, is mere religion.

2)A Christ centered service. I admit I am biased because I believe that the bread and wine are what He said they are–His actual body and blood. So I really love the Lutheran service’s focus on the Eucharist. Growing up communion was just this sort of funny thing we did at the end of service once a month, and I never really got it. Like, ‘yeah, yeah, I remember he died and all that–this is a weird cracker.’ When you think about what He claimed though, and the stiff warning given about taking communion without serious consideration of what you are doing, it makes sense to focus the whole service not on the sermon, or the altar call, but on what Christ has given to us and meeting Him at the altar.

3)Christ centered music. The band can SUCK, that’s ok. The choir can be off-key–whatever, I’ll get over it after the initial muffled giggles. I can’t sing very well anyway. But please, please, please!! Not the contemporary “I will worship, I will serve you, I will. . .I will. . .I will”, and not “WE love you sooooo much. Yes, WE love you so much. . .because we are such wonderful amazing christiiiiiiiiians, WE love you so much!” Ok, so these are not real lyrics, but that’s how a lot of contemporary “worship” music sounds to me. And to some other people. People who like hymns, because the content of a hymn is almost without fail entirely about God’s character, or something God has done or is doing, and how wonderful and beautiful God is–not how great we are at loving and praising him. I mean get real people–no matter how shiny everyone’s faces in the worship band or how smoothly the songs go, if we are just singing about ourselves, does it count as worshiping God?

4) Last but not least, a good church is full of real people; and many of them may be over 50, many may not be at the epicenter of Cool, and some of them may be slightly annoying or kind of funny. But when you go it is obvious that any lack of Coolness is entirely made up for by the genuine interest of the congregation in your well being, in the many kind introductions made, in the pastor’s suggestion that if you need anything, please give them a call. Some mega churches now instruct their “greeters” to refrain from trying to talk to people who walk into the church–not to ask them questions or otherwise slow their roll into the mega-sanctuary. The theory is that it might scare off nervous first timers. It might make church not look so Cool. But guess what? Church isn’t cool! When was it ever, and why should it be? And I bet there are about a thousand people (maybe more) who walk in and out of that church every year without getting to know anyone. There is something to be said for not jumping all over someone new to a church, but I’ve never been to a church where that happened, and believe me readers, I have been to many churches in my lifetime (too many). There is certainly more to be said for that sweet 70-something woman who meets you at the front door, shows you where the cookies are put out after service and asks you where you’re from.

Ok, that was my post-Easter rant. . .where was I? Easter. Throwing up. The Resurrection. Photos from Easter:

The road back from church, and Mol playing soccer with the boys at Mom-mom and Pop-pop’s house–in front of the garden, which is awaiting its yearly resurrection even still, patiently.

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Now I have to throw up again, and then it’s time to sleep.
Happy Easter Monday 🙂

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9 thoughts on “I didn’t throw up on Easter!

  1. A wonderful and insightful posting for Easter. Thanks, Melissa for taking the time to share this. I have experienced a welcoming into a congregation at worship, twice in NYC and other times nearer to home. I have also experienced the “cold shoulder” in a new worship environment. It is such a joy to feel accepted into worship as a sibling in Christ! As for the music of worship I share a hymn I just listened to:

  2. Wow… I usually like what you have to say, but this was disappointing and almost a bit hurtful. It just sounds like you’ve been to some really bad non-denominational churches. They are definitely not all like this. I know a whole bunch of places the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches are missing the mark but it is my prayer that we all start to hit, what I feel should be the most important mark, reaching the lost.

    And I love playing contemporary worship music just as much as hymns although I prefer the former and like to add a more modern sound to the latter. Not that I am trying to be mean but it sounds like you have been a bit sheltered in the Christian world and don’t really know what is out there.

    Anyways… I love you and love reading most your posts. Just needed to voice my opinion.

    • You’re right I probably came down too harshly–I made some great friends at a non-denom church and even met my husband there. That said, it was Calvary Chapel, and it felt like there was this (normally) unspoken thing that all the traditional denoms like the Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics (I don’t think they would think of themselves as a denomination, but they kind of are) etc., were not really christians. At most they were the “frozen chosen”, saved but sort of useless.

      At two other churches (one non-denom and the other Pentecostal) that I attended it was the same deal–if another more traditional denom was mentioned, it was with that mocking sort of tone like they barely counted as christians. In fact for many years as a kid and young adult I thought Catholicism was a cult. So when I got older, and discovered that some of my favorite christian authors were Catholic christians, and met Catholics who loved Jesus and read the Bible, it was really a shock. And when I attended their services, it was totally refreshing that the whole thing focused on Jesus, and that using the liturgy meant reading out of the Bible, singing out of the Bible, and sharing in a worship style that is more corporate than individualistic. I ended up Lutheran instead, but their service is very similar. There were other aspects of theology that made a lot more sense in these denominations too, things that had been treated as false by the other churches I had grown up in.

      I understand if some people just can’t handle liturgy, that’s ok, but I really wish that it was treated with more respect in a lot of non-demon churches. And I wish that they would look at the traditional churches (well, the conservative ones) like Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Catholics, and Presbyterians as allies to get involved with rather than an emberassment.

  3. Sorry… I realize that was a jab at the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. I think that all the denominations fall short in one area or another… especially the Catholics although I don’t think that is considered a denomination. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  4. And since my dad needed to throw in a great worship hymn video… let me throw in an amazing one from the more modern contemporary side of worship music.

    • I DO like some contemporary christian music–even a few contemporary worship songs. . .it’s not so much all contemporary praise music that I think sucks, just a lot of the stuff that I grew up with. I always felt like a total hypocrite singing choruses about how much I loved God, or how I was going to praise Him forever etc (songs that described what the singer is trying or wanting to do). This song though has awesome lyrics, and they really focused on the character of God rather than the actions of the singer/s.

      I think there is some great christian music out there that is hard for me to swallow as part of a church service. A lot of Rich Mullin’s music is like that for me–I love listening to it, even singing it at home, but in church it feels too put on–like everyone is trying to be a pop star singing it, but none of us are really reaching the mark.

      It doesn’t help that I have been throwing up all day for a few days. . .Maybe I shouldn’t mix morning sickness and church critique, ha. Love you too, always feel free to voice your thoughts, I appreciate them even when I disagree!

  5. That was fun to read….. Bradford and Melissa, you’re both great! So is David Crowder and Rich Mullins and all of the Hymn writers. 🙂

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