Sunday, April 12, 2009

Location: Handbasket, Destination: Yeah, that really hot spot

We tried a new church today. Yes, I am well aware that Easter is probably not the best time to change your usual church-going practices but given that our usual church-going practices on any given holiday either include the "hit the ER and avoid church" plan (the year a kid's ear drum burst, the year my mom literally poked herself in the eye with a sharp and pointy stick, the year a kid developed a fever and strep) or the "visit the 'rents' church" plan or some combination of both, we don't have a game plan for staying at home. This is the first year since my children have been born (nearly 12 years now) that we haven't headed to my parents for the holidays. My younger sister planned poorly and had a baby last week, which completely nixed all long-standing annual plans (gee thanks, Z.!) and left us at loose ends. So not only am I having to actually cook an Easter dinner, which I have never in my life done before (and I insanely invited friends to come and watch the immolation bound to occur during such a grand folly--wonder if pizza delivers on Easter?), but we had to find a church to grace with our usual heathen presences.

Now I would very much like to find a church that we would cheerfully attend each and every Sunday. So far we've been much more content to worship at the altar of St. Mattress. This stems from many reasons, not the least of which includes laziness, but isn't helped by outside things as well. For starters, I am a traditional service kind of person. The fact that I am the only one under the age of 80 who is, however, means that in order to attend a tradtional service in the denomination of my choosing, my entire family, reluctant children too, must be out of the house no later than 7:45 on a Sunday morning. All reasonably timed services seem to be "contemporary," which is not my thing at all. So given the sloth of my children, we were doomed to the contemporary service today. I always consider it a bad sign when there's a band in the front of the church. No good can come of bands contributing to worship services. Trumpets and drums are too loud for the confined space of a sanctuary. If I wanted to go deaf, I'd go to a loud bar--also not my kind of place, incidentally. Bands also generally mean that there will be music written in the past 20 years or so. I do not appreciate much music written in the past 20 years or so. Frankly, it's a step up from the hideous Christian rap that my least favorite cycle instructor plays, but it is pretty ghastly stuff. It's peppy. I will give it that. But the snob in me must also point out it is poorly written and, oddly enough, given that it is called praise music, uninspired. I happen to really like most traditional church music. It just feels right.

So, consigned to a contemporary service with a band and awful music, I was horrified when W. leaned over to me and casually mentioned that the guy on the guitar is a math teacher at the middle school. I had to spend several minutes of the service figuring out how we were going to slink away without him seeing us so we wouldn't be obligated to lie in church about how much *ahem* we enjoyed the service. Would be dreadful to be struck by lightning on Easter, and in church to boot, wouldn't it?! Should definitely have just worshipped at St. Mattress again once we'd officially missed the traditional service.

As if I wasn't already squirming (I hate it when the only thing I recognize during a service is the Lord's Prayer--give me pomp and circumstance and all the trappings please! Yes, I probably would have been one of the crabby folks complaining bitterly about the move away from Latin in the Catholic service had I been a.) alive then or b.) Catholic.), when the minister asked for prayers for members of the congregation, he actually detailed everyone's ailments. The things I really don't need to know! Even worse, apparently, one of the parishonners is having a baby today. (How lovely to have an Easter baby!) How do I know this, because I know that this woman is at a sepcific hospital right now and is dilated 7-8 cm. Yeah. From the pulpit, we actually got an update on her dilation. Ick-o! D. looked over at me for my reaction to this one. Apparently I shook my hands as if trying to get something nasty off of them. Prayer in the delivery room, perfectly acceptable and welcome. Medical details in the church, not so much. Pretty much lost me right there.

Lest you think we are uptight weenies who deserve to be headed to hell (and we cheerfully acknowledge that we probably are headed there on the fast track), this morning also gave me some chuckles unrelated to the service itself. For starters, when we sat down, T. asked for something on which to draw. R. helped edit his picture but not before I noticed that he'd drawn himself with a speech bubble that said, "Church sucks." Yeah, my 7 year old is soooo articulate and appropriate, isn't he? (On the plus side, he only asked twice if church was over yet--and it was a rather long service.) R. the diplomat erased this and wrote: "Church rocks." That girl will go far one day.

The even funnier bit was D. at commmunion. Now all churches do communion a bit differently and when visiting a new church, it always pays to see how things are handled by the actual parishioners. So I watched and learned. D., not so much. The church offered both common cup and individual glasses for communion and thanks to the lingering nastiness I'm still harboring, I knew there was no way on the planet I was going for common cup. The last thing I needed was yet another opportunistic bug to whammy me all over again. D. must have felt similarly but instead of drinking and taking the small cup with him to deposit at the side in a basket provided for that reason, he drank and returned the cup to the tray. The horrified look on the face of the older man holding the tray was worth the price of admission as he tried to move it out of the way of anyone else. I had snickered, noted where my clueless husband had deposited his cup, and reached for my own all at the same time the older man was trying to retrieve the empty cup and move it out of the way. Our hands just about collided and blood was almost spilled (all over the floor) as he bobbled the tray desperately. I'm not sure we'd be welcome back there even should we choose to go back. I had to bend forward and let my hair cover my face as I laughed all the way back to the pew. We are clearly the Dennis the Menaces of the church-going world. As we left, the minister noted that we had never been there before and welcomed us. I suspect he was actually mentally writing descriptions of us for the restraining order. Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Now that I've regained my composure, I'm not certain we could survive intact at a traditional service (or that whatever church we find could survive us) but I will be back on my quest to find one that meets at a human hour of the morning because I just can't face another Sunday of out of order slides (maybe it was PowerPoint, but the effect was the same), a jammin' band, and unfamiliar songs and prayers that leave me feeling snarky instead of uplifted. And failing to find a church that can serve us, maybe I'll convert and lead the charge to bring back Latinate mass.


  1. I laughed so hard while reading this post! I can really relate to this. I was raised first in a Methodist church, and then in a non-denominational (one with a band). I never quite got used to the contemporary service. I can live with it, but my comfort level was found going to a Lutheran church in college.

    Then I married a man who was raised in the Assemblies of God churches (charismatic, speaking in tongues, etc.). It was a shock to say the least. We compromise by going to a Calvary Chapel church with a band, and yes I have heard about parishioner's personal medical information from the pulpit - including the dilation of one lady during labor. :) If it was just me I would probably be going to a Lutheran church right now, but as it is I have a hard time not worshipping at the altar of St. Mattress (and this with our service not starting until 10am).

    Great post! Thanks for the honesty and entertaining stories about your family!

  2. Oh my!! I got a chuckle out of this post. We are not churchgoers. I was not raised with religion but I am spiritual and believe in God and all that so I encouraged my family to try some different churches. You know, to see if anything fit and our experiences very closely matched what you shared with us here.

    So we are still church-less and I totally get your 7-year-old's lovely cartoon because my son (10) would have done something quite similar.

  3. You had me laughing.

    We go to church every week, luckily our traditional service is at 11. I just can't get into the contemporary service. Our daughter, who is 9, prefers the traditional,too. The band at the earlier service is just too loud.

  4. Funny post. I attended Easter Mass with my husband, brother and sister-in-law this year. I haven't been inside a Catholic church in ages (I'm not Catholic). I knew the Mass wasn't in Latin any more, but this shocked me. Singing in a Catholic church? No kneeling? Very different.

    And the way people were dressed! Granted, this was a church in Hilton Head, SC, and people might be on vacation. But flip-flops and shorts? On Easter Sunday?



I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts