Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Church #20 (Lutheran Church of the Resurrection) revisited

This post actually made me lose sleep last night! Haha... I couldn't stop thinking about all the things I needed to say and how it was already Tuesday night.

Okay. First off, thank you all for commenting. I really, truly appreciate all the support. Hopefully you can tell that this project means something to me (and to Bradley, but I let him speak for himself). I hope you'll keep reading, and maybe even posting from time to time.

Secondly, the post! This week was a special situation, and I don't feel it should really be forced into the template that we usually try to follow. We revisited the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. Since we first visited (Church #20, for those of you keeping score at home), I'd been in touch with Pastor Zorn quite a bit. He snail mailed me, then we kept in touch through email, then I met up with him in person, etc. He had concerns about the project. ...Don't we all.

After talking with him in person, Pastor Zorn asked that Bradley and I come to their contemporary service some time (as we'd already been to the traditional service). I assured him that we would do our best, and this week it just worked out for us.

When we got to the church (11:45am service) we noticed that there were fewer cars than there had been last time. We entered the lobby area-- not nearly as scary the second time, haha-- and signed in to the guest book again. There were no greeters this time around, but we were welcomed by a member of the congregation and then Pastor Zorn saw us and welcomed us. We were ushered in to the main auditorium and greeted again by the woman passing out programs and hymnals.

Then it got weird, because when Bradley and I were sitting down, we heard our names. Sitting in front of us were two women talking about us, and we weren't really sure why. We flipped open our programs and there, stuck in the middle, were printouts of the LCR Church Hop entry. The day's sermon was about whether or not worship should be evaluated.

I was... dumbstruck? Pastor Zorn had warned us that he was going to talk about the blog at one of his services-- I had no idea it was going to be the one we were sitting in, and that it was the focus of the sermon. ...Wow.

(I've been wrong to omit the Joyful Noise band-- there was lively music playing through the entire service by a small band up front as part of the contemporary service. Hence the separate hymnal/songbook/whateveryoucallit. They were great and energetic but Bradley and I were more than a little distracted by the goings on.)

The sermon was-- eye-opening. I really enjoyed it, though I was pretty embarrassed. Pastor Zorn didn't point us out or anything, which was great. He talked about going to church with a consumer mentality, which struck me as slightly hurtful until I really thought about it. Yeah, I guess that's what I do. Is that wrong?

That was his question too, and he didn't draw a definite line. He talked about blogs, about today's mentality in general, about what worship should be and what Lutheran worship should be. All very even and fair, in my opinion.

Then it took a turn for the personal (not in a bad way)-- he told the congregation about meeting me, and paraphrased what I had told him about the project. He treated the subject respectfully and from what I could see, the congregation didn't hate the idea of the project. I have to admit that I was worried that someone would say something horrible, not knowing that I was sitting right there in the pew. (It was a stupid thing to be anxious about but put yourself in my shoes for a second.)

Communion time. If you remember, it was after the LCR Church Hop that I asked my question about communion-- what do you do if you don't take communion? I listened when he was explaining it, then Bradley and I came forward (with everyone else) and we folded our arms. Pastor Zorn gave communion to his congregation and when it was our turn, quietly blessed us. It was a scary step but it was the least I could do-- not only for me and for Bradley, but for Pastor Zorn and for a church who were welcoming and accepting to our ideas.

In the past couple weeks, I've been given a lot to think about. This was the icing on the cake, I guess. Like most people, I have times when I want to change the world. I want to leave my mark. Especially as a writer-- I want my words to affect people. Sitting there and listening to a sermon that I clearly had a hand in-- it was crazy. I'm still not sure how to react to all of it-- I wasn't prepared, and it happened so quickly.

I have a lot to mull over. Recently I've been getting a lot of questions, and some of them will always be hard for me to answer. "What do you believe?" "What are you looking for?" "When will this be over?" I've never forced myself to answer these questions, but they're coming from other people now. I guess they'll all be answered at once-- when I know what I believe, and if I understand what I am looking for... then I guess it will be over. For now I want to push this project further. I've learned a lot so far, but what is now becoming clear is just how much I don't know.

Brad: Wow. I can't say that I've ever had a sermon that was tailored around a blog, or a certain group of people who were question the goings on of the local churches.

Coming around the second time was a lot different from the first, not to state the obvious, but I was more relaxed, and felt more comfortable with meeting Pastor Zorn, and what was about to happen. When Erica and I walked in, our heads were turned by the actual use of our names. Bradley Garwood said out loud. It was extremely weird. Despite that fact that people seemed to have an idea of who we are, it didn't hit the climax until we opened our programs. In the handout, was a copy of our exact post (via blogger) with little copies of the photos just how they are on the site.

When Pastor Zorn got up to speak-after the great band finished a few songs-it was such a great sermon. It filled my head with a wild assortment of ideas about what I believe in. Questions in my mind about the "ethics" of our church hopping. This was a great example of how our hopping effects people. I watched the heads of the people listening. Bobbing motions followed almost everything he said, as people stuck to his words. I can admit I was one of those people.

I can safely say that this is one the best sermons I have ever heard.

Later in the service, we put our new-found knowledge about communion, and about just going up and bowing your head, with hands folded. This was very awkward, I must admit more awkward than sitting there, but it felt good to be doing what seemed like the right thing in most of our eyes.


sandy said...

i love your blog and would be missing out on some great insights if it were to be no more. others have already said it more than once, but i must add that i have never sensed a critical, negative, stick-it-to-'em kind of vibe at all. i love the honest frustrations that you share. and really, if you were to, "judge", so to speak, what's the problem with that? we all make observations and draw comparisons from our experiences and what we believe to be true and i would expect you and bradley to do no less. most of time, things can't be dealt with anyway if they never rise to the surface, so i'm perfectly ok with you playing hardball when need be. as a friend of mine once said, "embrace the chaos". looking forward to more from you both!

Anonymous said...

Hi Erica and Bradley! I am the praise band director at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection and was at the Joyful Noise service that your latest blog was about. Firstly, I'm glad you weren't offended at Pastor Zorn's sermon. His sermon "spoke" to a lot that were there and his comment about "consumer mentality" was (in my opinion) very true. I appreciate your comment about the band. Your blog site really gives honest (and fair)evaluation. I believe all Christians should encourage this type of open evaluation and feedback. I sincerely believe this world would be in a better way if Christians (as all religions) were more willing to listen to honest, heartfelt comments. Please come back soon! God Bless, John Snowden

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine attends Lutheran Church of the Resurrection and told me about your blog. I once heard someone say that if you're looking for God, He'll find you. I always liked that thought, and after reading this post I thought I'd share it with you. I think it's great that you and Bradley are trying to learn more about faith and figuring out what you believe, which is completely different from church shopping. A pilgrimage is an ancient religious concept, and it sounds like you are on one. Please don't think that church is only for people who have it all figured out, because I don't think most of us do. We're always learning more about God and how He loves us. Anna

sandy said...

ok, now that i'e posted in the wrong spot (or the right spot too early) i must add that you handled this and the inevitable fallout thought processes amazingly well and so much better than i would have. i have had alot to think about myself just from reading over your experiences. again, thanks for sharing yourselves with the rest of us.

sandy-a communion passer-upper 98% of the time

Christie said...

I've enjoyed your blog since being introduced to in by Pastor Zorn. I was once a church shopper myself, and visited many of the churches in Anderson Township -- but didn't think to blog about it! I'm still not sure all that I believe in, but found that LCR was a welcoming place and a church where social justice was very alive and active and so I joined. (Besides, I think Pastor Zorn usually has thought-provoking and challenging sermons!) I'm glad you weren't offended by his sermon. I was at the earlier service and can say that it was well received and I don't think people came away with any feeling that your blog was a bad thing -- just something to think about in relation to our own lives and judgments. Keep learning, growing and questioning. --christie

Anonymous said...

I sent you and e-mail after reading about you on the ACTS page. I pastor a church which is affliated with the Church of God / Cleveland, TN and thought it was fun to hear your comments about one of our churches you visited.

Also I think you have a great idea for a book and this is your research. It would be great to see what churches tought about themselves and then see how they look to someone unfamiliar with their mission statement.

Keep up the good work and I wish we were close enough for you to come and visit our church......you talk about scary......hehehe