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I went to Church

Last Sunday I went to church and I have wanted to talk about it in pretty much every conversation I have been a part of since then, from my best friends to my colleagues to strangers – literally everyone. Why? Well, for starters, because it was a very enjoyable experience. Which surprised me. As a secular jew, I’ve been to church just a few times – when I was a kid with friends’ families and for a wedding here and there as an adult. My husband is a strict atheist. He was raised Catholic but was very put-off by the way that the Catholic Church has handled a number of things, and also never found any spirituality in the way that he was raised. 

So why would I ever go to church? Well, I ended up going because I have been on a spiritual quest which is really centered around following my inner voice, which I also refer to as my curiosity. This past Sunday morning, my husband was feeling unwell, the kids were bouncing off the couch and I found myself hearing my inner voice say “I want to do something that I have never done before”. And then somehow, I recalled that, when my friend Pastor James showed me around his church during one of my visits to this church’s fantastic coffee shop and co-working space (turns out this has been a huge aid in how they have attracted new members), I saw a room filled with toys. And so in thinking of what I would do, I realized in that moment that the church probably has free daycare. And then I thought about the prospect of me sitting somewhere with my thoughts while my kids were taken care of and it became blatantly clear that I was going to church. 

So we went, the kids and me (husband remained at home)! It was a 10:30 service. There was a robust process for checking my kids into daycare. They both seemed excited about it. And there was a TON of coffee and tea out in the lobby, and the best part of all, you could take it into the sanctuary!!! I was one of the last people to enter the sanctuary. And it so happened that my friend Pastor James who has really built up The Bridge as we know it today, is a pretty big deal. To be clear, this church is quite large in terms of the size of its sanctuary and it was standing room only! It started with a fun feel-good band playing music that everyone sang along to, and was simply followed by a sermon which was delivered by Tyler, the junior pastor because Pastor James was on vacay. The sermon could not have more perfectly spoken to me. It centered around glorifying the whole or The Universe (or as Tyler would say “God”) instead of the self. It was explained in a beautiful way with yes lots of references to Jesus and God but also to George Harrison (“I Me Mine”). I found it extremely relatable and applicable to the journey I have been pursuing. 

I left riding on the high of the people around me. The people whom I could tell come to church most Sundays to feel that connection between themselves, the Earth and those with whom they share it. It was a feeling that was almost identical to that which I got from the guided group meditations and talks I used to go to in Brooklyn with Josh Korda and Dharma Punks

Yes, it was an enjoyable experience, but that’s not the reason I have been so desperate to discuss it. Instead, the fact that the experience challenged some of my core notions is why I have been craving the opportunity to break it down and digest it with others. Unintentionally, I seem to find myself on various sides of an us v. them mentality. For me, religion is a big place where this manifests. I am spiritually-interested and open, but I seem to have developed an idea that those who follow organized religion are foolish. I hate to even write that out but I am really efforting to be brutally honest. If someone told me they went to church, I immediately put them in a category of someone whom I could like but not truly relate to – someone on a different intellectual level from me. 

But I think what I realized from this service is that believing in God or Jesus actually isn’t that different from believing in “The Universe” or some type of cosmic force or, my personal favorite, karma. And going to church, at least a church like this one, is another way to tap into that higher consciousness, feeling that we are all in this together. 

Do you want to turn your wheels on this with me? Do you go to church? Do you have a way to tap into that feeling that we are a part of something bigger and connected and that we are all in this together? Do you judge people who believe in God? Or who don’t believe in anything? What other ways are we manifesting an us v. Them mentality that perhaps isn’t serving us? Do you have any questions or anything that you want to discuss related to this topic?

7 Responses

  1. I like how you also highlighted the spiritual and consciousness aspects! Did you get a chance to pray?

    1. Hi Michelle! I did not pray, at least I don’t think I did. What does it really mean to pray? Does thinking about what I am grateful for count as praying?

  2. Hi Andrea! It’s cousin Anne.

    I am Catholic and still go to church today. Growing up, I spent my summers with my dad and half-sisters who were Presbyterian and therefore I had to attend their services. In addition, my first cousin Maurice who lived across the street from my dad is Jewish and I attended his barmitzvah which was entirely in Hebrew. Today my good neighbor is a Muslim who says prayers several times a day. I learned at a very young age that humans connect to that great force, that Native Americans call the Great Spirit, in a million ways. All ways are good and legitimate. They are just different ways of connecting with that Great Spirit. In fact, we have more in common than we have differences. What we have in common is love. In other words, it’s all good!

  3. Hi Andi. I’m with hubby on the ways of the Catholic Church. I had a brutal experience and cannot connect with a God who allows the methods used by priests and nuns to ‘teach’ children. I fear walking into a church.
    Learning about Aboriginal culture and connection to land sea and sky has resonated strongly with my spiritual self and that’s where I find peace and solace. Having said that I know beautiful Christian church goers who shine with their beliefs and their connection to God.

    1. Sue! Thank you so much for sharing this. If you are open to sharing further about this experience, I would be very interested to learn more. I am confident that you are not alone in these feelings. I am so sad to hear that you faced this. I am grateful that you have found peace in the most godly place (the natural world).

  4. Wow, this is a really surprising experience to hear about. I’ve recently converted to Judaism. Most of the Jews I’ve been getting to know are secular (non-god believing) but still very cultural (proud keepers of Jewish traditions and holidays). In a world where Jews are such a minority, many of them would find it threatening to even their cultural Jewishness to participate in and be open to a Christian service. It’s as if the slippery slope of assimilation can’t even be dabbled in. Did you experience any similar thoughts or internal conflicts? Is there a reason why you didn’t turn to a Jewish service for spiritual connection?

    1. Oh hey Matt! Thanks so much for your thoughts and Mazel Tov on your newfound Jewishness! That is so exciting! I love being a Jew. I love it because it ties me to the traditions of my family and helps me understand where my ancestors came from in the halls of history. I also love that I feel a freedom to be a seeker of knowledge and experience and information. I actually didn’t choose to go to church for spiritual connection, I decided to go because it was Sunday morning and I was bored! I was able to identify this nagging feeling of boredom and thought “I want to do something this morning that I have never done before”. And I hadn’t been to church as an adult (aside from some weddings). And, the kicker, I thought they might have free childcare because I had seen some kids rooms when I had gotten a tour after frequenting the church’s beautiful coffee shop. I did not plan to or expect to find a spiritual connection. In fact, when I am craving that, I go to a guided meditation which is where I feel the greatest sense of connectivity and peace (although I just left an AA meeting – so stay tuned for my post that because I think it rivaled group mediation! Wow!).

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