January 13, 2007

I Went Back...

…To the Worthington SDA Church today… (When finished with this story, click "Worthington SDA church" on the upper left side.)

I arrived earlier than last time and got there between services. Guess what they were doing when I walked through the door?

Serving cake. Yep, chocolate cake with loads of fluffy white frosting. The kids were getting it all over their clothes and the women were ruining their lipstick.

“January birthday’s”, I was informed when I asked a young man leaning on a white pillar in the foyer eating huge bites of cake as only young men can do.

So I ruined my lipstick too.

“Eating between meals!” Grandma Mascunana would have admonished – and 50 years later her words still echo in my ears when I ‘eat between meals’.

But that was when I raided the musty mold-covered veggies left over from the stew she cooked 3 weeks ago.

This was CHURCH. (Not even potluck after church.) She would turn over in her grave.

Then, I stood to one side of the different groups of people actually listening ‘eavesdropping' to ‘Sabbath’ conversations since the room/foyer seemed to buzz with animated conversation and much of it did not really sound ‘Sabbathy’. (We used to be very careful about what subjects we discussed from Friday night sundown to 30 seconds after sundown on Saturday night – just to be sure we didn’t ‘step on the edges’.)

Of course, I’m in Columbus, Ohio and the men just had to get in a word or two about those Buckeyes and the 4th quarter. Actually, I don’t know any comments worth saying at all after the first run of the 1st quarter – but the subject was being thrown around between bites of cake and the opening hymn in the sanctuary.

Today there were lots of kids running around and I was interested not only in their seemingly delight at the service, but the clothing that looked like they were fresh from the dirty clothes hamper. No kidding. Wrinkled. Torn. Baggy. Jeans. Un-tucked. I didn’t get close enough to sniff…But, for the most part, the KIDS SEEMED HAPPY! Hugging adults, Greeting their friends. One small boy even did handstands for us. I think it was more than the cake being served.

Maybe the “New Rules” have accomplished a purpose? Get the kids to church? But why? What are we really promoting these days? Surely not the fast approaching Second Coming when everyone will be judged on Judgment Day and only 144,000 will be alive to be caught up in the clouds. (Well, that’s how I was raised to believe when that age.)

Admittedly, I didn’t immediately sign the guest book today. Mary, my sweet greeter from last visit, was going into the Ladies Room when I entered and she looked at me as if she thought she should know me, but moved on through the door and I didn’t see her again.

Another woman wearing a greeter name tag shook my hand and looked at me like she wondered if she was suppose to greet me or welcome me. An old man walked by and held out his hand and I gave him mine but he passed on by.

I confused them because I didn’t sign the guest book, I guess. But, I was eating cake so I must be a member?

Suddenly across the room I saw someone I knew. Who was that white-haired but simply lovely-looking well-dressed woman?

Why it was Lacy’s master. (Lacy, the poodle pictured earlier.)

She introduced me to her husband as, "The woman who took Lacy’s pictures”.

She asked where my husband was and my response slightly shocked her.

“He’s not an Adventist, I said.”

Jim disagrees with that comment, but I told him he has to believe in Ellen G. White if he wants to be a Seventh-day Adventist. Speaking of which, I honestly don’t think the SDA Church upholds many of her teachings anymore. I was raised memorizing the most important passages from many of her books and can quote them even today. Meaningless words as they are applied now. Maybe that’s why I’m so confused.

In the sanctuary, I sat very near the back this time. I really didn’t care if the pastor recognized me or not. I sang the songs I knew loudly and with a SMILE. Who cares? It makes me feel good inside to smile when I sing. (And, I don’t think the man sitting behind me could speak English anyway.)

Then, I left.

Nope, didn’t stay for the sermon or wait to be greeted afterwards.

As Jim commented as I kissed good-by when leaving for church, “You could preach the sermon."

I did stop by the guest book as I left, though. The foyer now empty and quiet. No one to watch me or ask who I was.

I signed simply, “Linda Meikle – Take Care on the Journey”

HOME - http://dustyangels.blogspot.com

7 comments:

There too said...

Linda,
I'm sorry I missed you at church this week. I was there too, but my experience was quite different. I wonder why it is that your experience was so negative, when mine was so positive.
You complain about both traditions we've kept (signing the guest book) , and new ones we've started (birthday cake), so apparently, you have problem with traditions. You write sarcastically about people who greet you, and also about those who don't speak to you.
You are critical about the Pastor's wife not standing next to him as you walk out of church, yet you say your husband isn't there, and can't be an SDA without believing fully in Ellen White.
I'm not sure what you want.

Here's what I see in church. - but first, I've got to admit, that I'm a guilty one: I'm tempted; I sin; I'm too proud; I'm greedy; I'm many times too wrapped up in myself and not caring enough of those around me; I miss opportunities to witness; I misuse opportunities to witness; I fail to live in my life a decent reflection of the grace and character that God has shown me.

This list could go on much longer, but if you come back and ask pretty much anyone about the Kevin from the finance committee - I'm sure that they will not mention any of these, (even though they could!). Here's why - Our church is filled with members and guests who are sinners like me. We know that already, and expect it when we walk in the door - so it's not a surprise if we find out that someone is having a discouraging week - an illness in the family - or perhaps their marriage is falling apart. We're not surprised, but we are concerned and will pray together about it. - and I'm sorry if in our talking and socializing with each other - on things from the shallow to the very serious, that we miss out in visiting with visitors who we haven't met yet. That's a problem that every church faces - whether large or small. We're working on it, but are not where we'd like to be yet.

We come even though we know that there are other sinners in the pew with us..., and we study together, and we listen to carefully prepared sermons, and we sing together, and we have professional musicians join us from time to time, and we “Amen” and clap for their musical offering. We WORSHIP GOD and we fellowship with each other - so that we can be strengthened and encouraged as Christ wants us to be. We preach and talk about the Grace of Christ - and are looking for ways to respond to his Grace.

Members and non-members ( including a Christian-Scientist friend of mine) come back because they find a place where they can search out Christ, Worship Him, and learn better how to follow him - all in a friendly environment where we know that we're all in need of Christ, and we're all trying to find him, and we're all making steps towards his kingdom.

If you're looking for a place where you can find things to criticize, you'll find lots of evidence for that at our church.

If you're looking for a place though where you can find people searching for God together, you'll find that at the Worthington SDA church too. Please come again, - look for Christ though - please do your best to ignore the faults of me and all the other hypocrites who are in the pews and up front, and your experience will be far better.... and bring your husband Jim too - we don't require everyone to believe exactly as we do just for them to seek God in this one of His houses in Worthington.

Katy said...

Rather than hear Linda's comments as criticism toward the church or the people within it, I find her observations to be expressions of confusion between the strict way she was raised and the way that the church has evolved. I hear Linda's inflexible grandmother's values (not Linda's values) being compared to the fun, cake-eating church of today. She observes people dressing casually and wearing jewelry, enjoying the freedom to talk about topics that aren't just related to church or the bible, reconciles them with the church she was a part of for most of her life, and realizes that people are HAPPY in the new church, happy without the very strict rules of the church of just a few years ago.

Everyone has their path, and these are Linda's observations and path. Make your own observations (gently, please, with the same patience you have for yourself); and perhaps don't take her observations personally.

~Katy

The Cat's Meow said...

Hi Linda
After reading what SINNER Kevin had to say thought I give my opinion too. Maybe Kevin should read YOUR BOOK and the Bible, before making a Judgement aginst you.
After I left the slave camp of Laurelbrook (SDA self-supporting bording school) I gave up church, got divoriced, moved to Florida, and learned how to forget the brain washing the SDA gave me. I learned to love and belive in ME. I have never been happier. I have a great husband and family and NO church
I see nothing wrong having a B'day cake for folks tho BUT....
Why not have it after vespers on Sabbath, or after prayer meeting on wednesday night or would that mean they would go to church MORE then once a week, and God forbid they have to put thier self out for that. I always thought at church you were to be reverent and dress the best you could. Ask your self before you go to church "Would you go have a family potrait the way you dress today"???
I'm so glad that I belive the way our great Grandma belived. She was 100% Chipawha Indian and belived in Mother Nature not some make belive god. I do belive the Jesus was a real person, but he was no better then JIM JONES or DAVID in Waco Texas. I belive Jesus was black, gay and a CULT leader. (what would call someone today who hangs with around 12 men and one hooker had supper and washed each others feet and no telling what else they did???)
It was the christian who came to OUR land and killed off OUR people because we didn't belive in their so called god. I'm glad to be the one the christians preach about and say I'm going to burn in HELL and they need to save me. It will be a cold day in Hell when that happens and I don't even belive in the christians so called Heven or Hell.
I know when I die my spirit will be in the sky with my ancestors, The Indians, and I'll be VERY content!!
Here's the Spirits in the
SKIES!!!!!!!

sinless in florida

SandyZ

carolyn said...

Linda,

I am a member of the Worthington SDA church and have been for many years. I would love to meet you and get a better understanding of what a meaningful worship experience would be for you.

I am the pianist and organist you have mentioned several times. I give prayerful consideration every week for the choices made in selecting the music.

The harpist and violinist you referred to are not SDA. We are always delighted to have musical guests that are not a part of our congregations. It is one way that we share our message of Christ's grace and love for us. As a matter of fact, the harpist stated several times what a meaningful service it was for them and how thankful they were to hear the Christmas message for our time. I feel that this is one of our greatest blessings in our congregation.

You seem to have a critical nature - since reading some of your bio, I can surely understand your pain and your difficult journey into finding peace and love. I would love to welcome you into our congregation - one full of hope, love, peace and most of all acceptance.

I have a troubled past also, but God has led me and truly blessed me with a wonderful place to worship and a wonderful church family.

God would ask us to put aside our critical nature when we come to worship and come prepared to receive Him and the blessing He has to give us.

If I miss you this week, please try and find me. I'm not hard to find. I'm usually up at the piano.

At our church, all are welcome. You don't need an invitation. Come.

Carolyn

Anonymous said...

“The seekers of wisdom testify that a heap of ashes means
whatever was there went out burning” – C. Sandburg.

So what do the seekers of a “meaningful worship experience”
testify to?

Minds meaning and memory offer us the opportunity to revisit
the past, make observations about the present and direct our
pathway into a more meaningful future.

However there is a danger in revisiting the religious ways
“as-we-knew-it” of the past.

Over the last five decades many “old school” religious practitioners,
from all religious walks of life, have observed the “pendulum” of
religious performance practice has shifted from the strict left to the
liberal right. The voice of religions practice has shifted from a
strict adherence to biblical law, religious rule, church conduct and
social behavior to contemporary postures and interpretation which
strive to reach out to the masses.

The observations of religious transition in the SDA church made by
a returning fold member:

- Compromise of strict Sabbath Day periods
- Minister with a gold wedding band
- Applause of religious hymns in church
- Lacking of children present at services
- Displays of sparkling jewelry
- Sermon without post-formal prayer
- Absence of the pastors spouse at introduction
- Respectful dress
- Potluck invitation not extended

are a personal looking-glass magnification, which demonstrates
this religious shift.

Unfortunately, Kevin’s interpretation of Linda’s observations
lends one to walk away with a different refraction of image from
which the looking glass extended.

The literary dialogue of observations made does not present or
interpret negativism, complaints, acceptable/unacceptable religious
fellowship or who the sinners are in the pews. Like a good reporter –
differentiating between past and present – she is bearing witness to.

Inquiry into church change, through observation; draws intellectual
understanding into differences between the truths espoused from past
SDA doctrine and inherited contemporary practices. It presents to one
a very personal lifelong reach and identity perspective to re-evaluate
ones relationship to this medium of religious practice.

Their are those who need places to worship. Sanctuaries set aside for
silence and solitude held sacred for personal devotion. Personally
I am not one.

~ Your Loving BAP

Anonymous said...

What does it matter what the Seventh Day Adventists think? They ignore the thirty times in the Bible that say Jesus would be back within the lifetime of those who heard Him speak, but are convinced that the world was created in six literal 24-hour sayd only a few thousand years ago. I'm sure they're nice and all, but as long as we're making up stories why not make one up that is interesting, life-affirming, fits the facts and isn't a shrieking embarrasment to any thinking person?

Katy said...

Touche.