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.