I recently started going to church again. I used to go as a young person with a neighbor lady. She is German, so she took me to this little Lutheran Church. Once I went regularly, my mom started attending the same church. She is English, so the Lutheran Church seemed close enough to the Church of England. That little church closed, but a new fancy church opened and that’s where my mom goes today. When I was a teen, I went to a Christian Church and we did youth activities like going to see Michael W. Smith. I stopped going to church towards the end of high school.
Fast forward 20ish years and I started back. I tried the Presbyterian Church for a while, but it didn’t stick. Too big. See, I longed for the little Lutheran Church vibe from my childhood. Oh, the Lutheran Church I grew up in was Missouri Synod. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that the Missouri Synod is rather conservative, so conservative that they don’t allow female ministers. I am not conservative.
All this leads me to the point of writing about my “religious” journey today. I don’t think it’s actually a journey. See, I don’t pay attention, do I? Why didn’t I know more about the conservative sect of Lutheranism of my childhood? I went to Bible school and was even confirmed and I never knew that all of my efforts would not allow me to lead a congregation one day. Sorry, I get carried away. I’m not really interested in the clergy. But it’s like saying no female astronauts. That would be an outrage, even though I have zero desire to explore space.
I really don’t listen at church and I don’t think I ever have. Seriously, I probably should be ashamed for not knowing more. Then why do I go? It makes me feel good. I feel safe there. The only thing I worry about is someone remarking at the fact I wear jeans (an act of defiance and they are comfortable) or some nasty judgment in the sermon (if I’m paying attention at the time). The reason I’m comfortable and continue to go is that the Pastor and the whole vibe reminds me of Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion. The pastor actually looks like Garrison and the small congregation seems sweet and loyal to the church and the neighborhood. I went to the church’s summer picnic in the park near my home. When I approached the shelter where the congregation had gathered, I saw that there were several musicians in place and the pastor was in the front with a violin. It was the local dulcimer society and the pastor was playing with them. I took photos. I fully expected a Guy Noir sketch after communion.
There are several things I do throughout my weekend that have a similar effect, but not exactly. Listening to NPR programs while cleaning rank right up there with working out at the gym listening to pop songs. There’s getting an oil change and a car wash before grabbing a sandwich at Jimmy John’s and a Starbucks coffee. I like accomplishing things on the weekend that affect me personally. So many of us work outside of the home and pour a lot of energy into other people’s businesses and lives. If you have kids, there’s even less time for self-preservation. If you have a partner or spouse or other family members, you’re trying to carve out time for them as well.
This entry is not about asking folks to go to church. If I were to suggest anything, it would be for individuals to find an activity wherein one would feel refreshed, recharged or relaxed. A selfish pleasure, if you will…something that makes you feel good, even if you don’t really pay attention.