I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m not what most people would consider a “religious” person. In fact, I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve been to church in the two years since my daughter was baptized.
So no, I probably won’t be winning any attendance awards anytime soon.
See, I’ve had issues with organized religion for awhile now, since way back in my middle and high school days when I began to notice that the very people who talked the biggest and sang the loudest and dressed the fanciest and put on the grandest Look-at-what-a-wonderful-Christian-I-am show every Sunday morning were the same people who spent the rest of the week looking down their noses and treating the people they thought were beneath them like garbage. Somehow, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it, and it made for a lot of uncomfortable Sundays, and feeling like the sermons being preached from the pulpits were hollow and empty.
During college, I had something of a love/hate relationship with religion. Part of my loved the intimacy of the daily chapel services, and I felt a genuine connection with the faculty and staff and students that I’d formed relationships with during my time at Concordia New York. But there was another part of me that just really believed that God had abandoned me, unable to forgive me for all the horrible things I’d done. Losing all hope and faith, and being so miserable when my life was filled with so many blessings was like making a conscious decision to spit in God’s face, and I was convinced that there was only so much of it that He was going to take.
It took a lot of years for me to heal, and to reconnect with my spirituality. Maybe I’m not an every Sunday churchgoer, but my faith is strong. I feel genuinely connected to the universe and believe absolutely in a power greater than myself that connects all of us. I do my best to be a good person, to treat others with dignity and respect, and to leave this world a little better than I found it. Do I fall short? Do I sometimes miss the mark? Absolutely. I’m human, after all. And there is no such thing as perfection.
Yet, even though I’ve never been much of the regular church going type, I do wish sometimes that Steven and I could find a church that we love and feel comfortable in, a church where we can start taking Cadence. I definitely don’t believe that children should be indoctrinated and forced to believe in something, but I do believe it’s important to give them an education and a foundation for belief. I believe it’s important to expose them to different ideas and viewpoints, and give them the freedom to form their own opinions. I don’t care if Cadence decides she doesn’t want to be Lutheran or attend a Lutheran church for the rest of her life. How could I, when I don’t even subscribe to all of the Lutheran beliefs or attend Lutheran services on a regular basis myself? But what I do hope is that Cadence is able to know, without a doubt, that she is part of something much bigger than herself. I think too many people lose sight of that, and I think that many of the problems we face in this world are a direct result of too many people living egocentrically, as if they are the only ones on earth who matter, instead of realizing that they are a very crucial part of something a whole lot bigger than they can imagine.
If you ask me, that is what church should be. It should be a place, like home, that offers security and comfort, a place that you know you are always welcome, a place where you can belong in spite of your differences. It should be a place where you feel a sense of connection, a sense of peace. It should be a place where you feel uplifted, and where you uplift others in return. It should be a place where you can lay down your burdens, where you can learn from your mistakes, and where you can nourish and heal your soul. It should be a place where you can feel, without a doubt, that you are in the presence of something bigger than yourself.
If you ask me, too many churches these days are focused on who can draw the biggest crowds, and do so by pandering to the fast food, MTV, reality show generation with loud music and loud sermons and bright flashing light shows that are dazzling and dizzying and reminiscent of the old circus sideshow acts that used to draw a similar sort of thrill-seeking crowd. Sure, it’s important for churches to have members. Otherwise, they can’t survive. But what’s the point of filling the seats for the big Sunday show when there is no substance to the message? What’s the point of having a service at all when the teachings and the beliefs don’t matter the other six days of the week?
Recently, my good friend Pastor Scott “Money” Geminn and his wife Becca started blogging. (You’ll have to bear with me, “Money” is what I’ve called Scott from our college days together, and I just can’t quite get the hang of calling him anything else). And I’ve been hooked on their blogs since day one. See, Money and I have always had similar views on a lot of things, and ever since he was first called to Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, I’ve wished that somehow I could find a way and a means to become a member of his church and arrive every Sunday just in time for service.
Pretty bold words for a girl with an attendance record like mine, don’t you think? But it’s the truth. And if I could find a way to push Lincoln, Nebraska and Glenwood Springs, Colorado just a little closer together on a map, I’d be a very happy girl.
Money is one of those people who would be a spiritual leader whether he was actually standing in front of a pulpit or not. He’s got a light that shines a little brighter than most, and a heart that is happiest when he is serving others. He is kind, gentle, loving, and a bit stubborn at times. He is the sort of man who stands up for what he knows is right, and who can be humble and contrite when he is wrong. He loves to learn, and makes a point to face new experiences and challenges with an open mind and an honest heart. He has a wicked sense of humor and a loud, echoing laugh that is downright infectious. Whether you’re listening to him preach in church on Sunday or wax philosophical about his favorite movies and sports teams, you can’t help but get caught up and carried along by his enthusiasm.
And Money’s wife Becca, though I have yet to actually meet her in person, seems to be the perfect match. They’ve been blogging for just a few short weeks now, and I’m already addicted. They’re definitely worth checking out. Here are a couple recent posts that really got me, and I wanted to share with all of you…
Money’s Blog : A Foolish Way
Becca’s Blog: Eleutheria
If you or any of your family or friends live in, near, or are visiting Glenwood Springs, Holy Cross Lutheran Church is definitely worth a visit. I think you’ll like it there. And be sure to tell Money and Becca hi. 🙂
Very nice,Laurie. Our feelings on religion are very parallel.
I hope you get to meet Becca soon.She’s a sweetheart. And Money gets his stubborness from his two (German) grandmothers.
Great minds think alike Rich. 🙂
Well, at least he didn’t say he gets his stubborness from his mother! Thank you for the nice words about our son.
You are welcome! Your son is one of my absolute favorite people in the world! 🙂
Great Lori!!! I knew when you wrote something on this subject it would be good reading material. I’m going to try to copy and paste it in an email to our pastor. Love you!
Thanks Mom! 🙂