Sunday #4 – July 22, 2012
In the car on the way to church, I hold back tears. I am sad, I don’t like change. I just want to go home (to OUR church). “Why, God? Why do we have to wander? Lord, I hate being so self-centered when there are real challenges in life: shootings in theaters, devastating fires, crippling droughts, wars, hunger, health…but…” Sigh. I don’t like this. Another Sunday going someplace we don’t know; we don’t know how to get there, where to park, where the entry is; we don’t know what will happen once we enter, how we’ll be received, what to expect. And this is only the fourth Sunday.
I spiral down into the vacuum of self-pity and wallow around in the morass until I am thoroughly mucked and mired. “Stop this!” I tell myself “This is the day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it.” Stop feeling sorry and focus on the purpose of this day: Sabbath, a day to renew and worship. Maybe it was because of the theater shootings on Friday that the emotion of hesitation and smallness overpowered that of adventure and openness. I reassure myself “Any minister worth his or her salt today will preach a message about hope.” As we pull into the line to get into the parking lot, I mental whisper one last prayer “God, please open my mind and heart, bind me to You. I need help.”
‘So this is a mega church,’ I think to myself. Titles can be so confining and judgmental. All the while that I try not to use these condemning titles it’s hard not to. My initial reactions: casual, communal, varied ages, ‘performance-like’ (stage, lights, screens) feeling more auditorium than Sanctuary. It makes me wonder: what makes a church a connected and meaningful place of passion and purpose? (I don’t have the answer for that…yet.)
Once shown seats, we stand singing praise chorus before the service starts. I don’t feel like singing some of the songs, they are just too…perky. Like a Gunther Toody’s waitress, too perky.
We’re led through a prayer, the offering bags are passed and blessed, and then the sermon is given. Maybe, I’m longing for our church and seeking the familiar, the hymn Spirit of the Living God comes to mind as we pray, I hum it in my head, my own thoughts transpose it.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
I am hard-hearted…melt me. I am broken…mold me. I am empty…fill me. I am lost…use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
The Sermon was given by Reverend Lee meStrobel. We came today because we saw that he was preaching and we wanted to hear him as we had previously seen him speak at the Crystal Cathedral. His sermon title: “Why God Allows Suffering & Tragedies.” He changed the topic after the shootings in the Aurora Theater and in consideration to all that Colorado has been going through this summer.
Wow. I could try and quote the wise, comforting, and scriptural-based ‘points of light’ that he shared with us, but it wouldn’t have the same impact. There were some points that I was expecting, but he shared new insights; and then there were some points which I don’t remember ever thinking, and they have given me cause to think deeper.
I’ll leave it at this, while discussing our time at this church; Richard said “That was probably one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard.” Check it out for yourself; we believe it is worth the time: http://www.chcc.org/sundays_lee_strobel_summer_2012.aspx
Thank you, God. I cried out to you and you answered.
Mega churches…how do I feel? Well, we could have sat there and nobody but God would have known we were there. That’s OK between God and me. I missed saying the Lord’s Prayer in unison, so I said it silently. I think God’s OK with that too. It can have the feel of a religious concert hall, theatrical stage, a place where one performs. And maybe some Sadducee said something similar overhearing Jesus preach at the Temple. A devout friend of mine once gently rebuked a group when someone criticized the arena filled ‘feel-good’ churches, “Never criticize another Christian community that is bringing even one person to Jesus.” Amen, sister. Each one of us is called to pursue a personal path to and with God.