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