Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Church #8 of 10: Come Thou Long Expected Boredom

“Let’s try the contemporary service,” I typed to my mother through AIM. “Maybe IT won’t be boring.”

"I think we’ve established that the Presbyterians are boring,” she reiterated our previous conversation.

“I think it’s the traditional Protestantism that is getting to us. Not traditional enough to be spiritually interesting, not contemporary enough to be spiritually stimulating,” I tried to convince her. “Plus, this church is ‘More Light’. You know, the Presby’s version of GLBT friendly.”

“It’s whatever you want,” she replied.

“Well, would you prefer the earlier or later service?” I tried to pry an opinion out of her.

“It’s whatever you want,” she repeated.

“Fine, the ‘10 ‘til 10’ service at Grace Covenant Presbyterian this Sunday.” I decided. I can’t say I had a good feeling given that I felt we were visiting more churches I didn’t like than did, but I was confident that a bigger church with a contemporary service might give us the Advent jolt we needed.

If I weren’t going on this journey with my mother, the paths I took would have led me to a completely different place. I probably would have stopped blogging by now and recommenced my sleep-til-noon Sunday morning ritual. I would have given up. After the emotional experience at Broadway Church, the semi-interesting

Episcopalians and Methodists, and the eternally sleepy Lutherans and Presbyterians, I would have reconciled to myself that I’d tried it all and wasn’t going to find what I was looking for—whatever that is.

But my mother consistently asked, “Where are we going next?” read and commented on every blog post, and provided support, encouragement and opinions. As she often has, she pushed me out of my comfort zone, then pulled me back into it, when necessary. She has taken all of her sadness and hurtfulness from our former church and redirected it into our difficult struggle to find our faiths again.

Grace Covenant probably wasn’t the best place to do that. I was surprised to find a large, Johnson County church on the “More Light” website, but there it was. Maybe that’s where all the liberals of JoCo go…all those people I with whom I went to high school are over at First Family or Resurrection, but those few Blue Valley loners, they must be at Grace Covenant.

I was wrong in my hopefulness. I felt like I was reentering my upper class, white, high school, only everyone was older and less interested. The fake superiorly humble attitude that so many entitled children learn so young had been practiced for years, and it was represented here. If it was supposed to be entertaining, it was painstakingly amateur. If it was supposed to be spiritual, it was disappointingly bland and if it was supposed to be welcoming, the doors, windows, minds and hearts must have been closed that day.

I would almost prefer an overdone contemporary service, with a screen, graphics and lots of standing up with your eyes closed, to what I experienced here. At least the mega-churches I despise so much still come from a sense of genuine honesty. I can believe that they believe, even if our beliefs are virtually opposite. Here, it felt like a quick dinner at Applebee’s, a nice hello to a few acquaintances, and then a blank stare throughout the drive home. Unfeeling, unnecessary, and underwhelming. Suburban. And not in a good way.

I’m not sure if it’s my mood that is making more critical, or if I’m just losing hope. My mind keeps shifting back to Broadway Church, and then I must ask myself the question, “Am I ready to re-visit a church.” Going once as a visitor is easy. No one expects anything of me and no one is wondering why I am there. “Oh, I’m just visiting churches.” But when you go back, there are questions. “Is she interested in joining? Does she want to help out? Who is she? What’s she like? What does she believe?” Questions I can’t even bear to ask or answer myself right now.

I will visit two more churches, and possibly a third on Christmas Eve. The question I’m starting to ponder is: What’s next?

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