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Friday, April 29, 2005

Church

Being that I am not serving in a church currently, I struggle with finding some place to call my home, so to speak. Church for me has always been more conventional, than essential. I know my thoughts are flawed and I am really trying to strive to be faithful to not forsake the fellowship with other believers through corporate worship. However, I'm lazy a lot and like to sleep past noon as much as possible. Enter the problem. While I still have not found a really likeable church here in New Orleans, I do have the liberty to goto different churches that I have never attended before. This is a story about last Sunday.

At first, when I decided to attend this specific church, I wasn't really sure how many people I wanted to tell. I knew my reasons for going, but I didn't want other people to come along who did not have my same intentions. So I got up and went by myself. It was quite an experience.

I attended the First Unitarian Universalist of New Orleans. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. While I knew their theology more in regard to the Universalist side, they are quite syncretic. Of course they supposedly hold more educational and ethical stances that closely fall in line with Judeo-Christian teaching, but they see nothing wrong with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or any other religion because they all lead to Heaven (ala, Universalism).

So, I'm there. Quite awkward the whole time. Two ladies talked to me, which was nice. Though both of their conversations, after the name-game intros, were questions along the lines of, "How did you find us?" One lady even warned me, "We're not like a lot of other churches." Yeah, I noticed.

The service was pretty basic and bland. The music, though not on the same level of professionalism as protestant churches, was pretty horrible. Off key singing, piano, and off-time tambourine playing. Their hymnals are quite funny. The "hymns" are pretty vague, almost coded, songs to the "creator" and such. I was hesitant to sing along.

The "UU's" (as they refer to themselves) were pretty funny looking too. I don't mean that in a disrespectful or hateful way. It wasn't like they were the rejected-type people of society (homeless, poor, ugly, downtrodden, etc). It was more like, the emotionally unstable people and the egocentric folk who thrive on controlling those types of people's lives (just my perception and opinion).

Now it was about time for the sermon. The minister just recently accepted the call of the church. This was her second Sunday there. The minister, a lesbian, was not a horrible orator. She seemed educated. Her "message" was basically an exegesis, if it can be, of a business book that is on The New York Times Bestseller list. She gave the people some inspiring words from this guy's writing. There wasn't even a mention of the Bible. Oh wait, she did mention the Bible. The minister mentioned that the church would continue to grow and care for people if it's members would do one thing: keep their word. Her reference to John 1, where "word" [Greek]logos was used. ("In the beginning was the Word.") She emphatically spoke about being true to your word, again citing that verse. I don't think she knew that "Word" means Jesus.

Finally, for the benediction, she asked us to do something different. She asked the congregation to form a circle around the church, hold hands, and listen to a song that she thought was special. It was a recording of a woman singing a very noticeable song. Me, not trying to purposely attract attention to myself, got up and joined them for their "oneness" time. The song seemed familiar at first. Then, I knew exactly what it was. We were listening to John Lennon's "Imagine." Hahaha. I couldn't believe it. I was tempted to sing it because it's hard to not sing songs I know. But I refused. I definitely don't mean it the way they were taking it. I kind of liked that song before, but now, it seems remiss to enjoy it knowing what people use it for (besides everybody else's views that John wrote specifically to be entirely Atheistic, Communistic, or Fascist).

When the service was over, I was ready to go. I went with hopes to maybe build relationships, but I mostly just went to see what it was like. I filled out a guest registration thing, so maybe the minister would call me, and I could talk to her some. This really was a good experience. Now I remember what it feels like to be in an uncomfortable place. I bet non-Christians attending our churches for the first time have a lot of these same feelings that I experienced.

I think this Sunday I'll stick with a church that actually believe that Jesus is the way, truth, and the life. Or maybe I'll just sleep in.

posted by Jeff Watkins at 2:56 PM

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