As I sat in the back pew of Bethany Lutheran Church on the eve before Thanksgiving Day, I found myself most thankful for my new church home.
I was becoming increasingly unhappy with the services at my former church. I've been wrestling with whether or not I should start looking for a new church for over two years. I was so sad that I couldn't look forward to Sunday mornings anymore. I even joined the Sunday School team in hopes that maybe I'd find a new reason to commit to this particular church.
I enjoy a traditional church service. One where there is a litany to be followed, hymns to be sung, and a message from the Bible to be delivered. I look to the leaders at my church to provide this kind of experience, and quite honestly, it just wasn't happening. The sanctuary was just another room in the building, parents were allowing children to run around and talk throughout the worship service, the drum beat was rather obnoxious during the Gloria Patri, the pulpit was just another place to pass along an announcement....you get the point.
I know it seems like these objections are such a paradox to who I am - I love children and I love music. You'd think that I would enjoy their presence in the service. The problem was, these issues were beginning to be distractions, and taking me away from the real purpose of being part of a church community - God.
I grew up in a church that provided a traditional service, and once a year we would travel to an exciting retreat spot, where we would have a more contemporary worship experience. Lights, projectors, guitars - it really was exciting! Each year, I looked forward to this rather public re-commitment to my faith.Along with these yearly treks came the appreciation for my more solemn, reverent weekly services. Being a musician, I enjoyed a quiet service, without the stigma of a performance, without the bells and whistles. I'm not a person who easily reflects or relaxes into deep thought (I know, big surprise), so I always welcomed the chance to quietly focus.
I can also appreciate the power of a more contemporary service, and the people it helps bring closer to God. I can't deny that the contemporary church services are full of families, and I am happy that they can find a faith experience that fits their needs. What I finally realized is that I needed an experience that fit MY needs, and that this was something I could do something about. Changing jobs or careers is much more difficult than changing church congregations, no matter how strong the ties are. I couldn't let my guilt over leaving good people overshadow a decision that was ultimately in my hands.
This has been an intensely personal journey - one where I needed to find my own path and still listen to God at the same time. That's hard for one very independent Brenda. :)
I'm so happy to say that I have found a wonderful new congregation. One where at 8:00 am, the doors of the Sanctuary are closed, and the worship experience begins. There is reverence, there is respect, there is peace. The pews rattle with the power of the organ. There is a definite devotion to quality music. The message directly relates to the Scriptures.
So, I am very thankful for my new church home, and I've only just begun to explore this church and congregation!