I went to my friend's church this past Sunday, Calvary Church, it's Presbyterian. She had been telling me about it for a while now and I had promised to go but kept putting it off. That's just the way I am. Once I start something, I rather enjoy it but it's getting started that I keep putting off. Well, except for mowing the lawn. I don't enjoy any part of mowing the lawn.
So I enter the church and right away I'm in a foreign land; Toto, we're not in Rome anymore. People are talking and joking with each other! In Church! I'm not even sure what to say about the service because I wasn't sure when to stand, or sit, or say anything. Luckily, they printed a program with the information on it. As a Catholic, it's in my bones: when to sit, when to stand, what my responses are. I guess the Presbyterians are more loosey-goosey: Today, let's sit first then stand, then sing, then pray. Every time the Pastor said, "Amen." I said, "Amen." but no one else did. If they noticed they were too nice to tell me. Maybe they get a lot of ex Catholics so they are used to it. Who knows?
Oh, and they changed up the Our Father as well. There I was cruising along thinking, I got this when they threw in a different word for Trespasses.
The Holy Communion (which they apparently don't do every week, I must have hit an on week) was totally different. I know they don't do transubstantiation so the blessing was a bit off (okay, for me it was off). Then, these 4 church members come up and get the bread and hand it out to the parishioners in the pews. Then they hand the remaining bread back to the Pastor and sit down. Then the Pastor walks down and gives bread to the church members who had just handed it out. Seems to me, that the Catholics are a bit more efficient in this department. But I suppose one shouldn't have a "get it over with" attitude with church.
When I was young we had a Priest we dubbed Father Fast Prayer. His masses lasted 35 minutes, I kid you not. He always did the Saturday 5 pm mass so you could get in, get out, and get on with your weekend. See, that's the other thing, this Church only had one service on the weekend! Catholics have several, they cater to every need: Don't like Sundays, how about Saturdays? Prefer early morning? We have a mass for that. No music? We have a mass for that.
One more thing about the communion. We had to wait until everyone was served before we ate the bread but then they gave us the wine (read: grape juice) and everyone just took one and drank it. I didn't really follow that logic. But the Presbyterians do score a point in the Communion category: we got a choice of 3 different breads. I felt like I was in an upscale restaurant.
The best part was..oh wait, I forgot about the choir. The choir was so cool -- they had robes! And, they sang these songs about death that were so joyful! "When I cross over, it's going to be awesome, oh yeah!" That's a party I want to go to. And, people clapped after the choir sang. Happy people in church.. not quite used to that.
So, after the service they have a coffee hour. And, I'm not talking about some coffee and donuts. I'm talking mini-hot dogs, chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, a deli platter, coffee, water, juice. It was lunch! Everyone was so nice, ridiculously nice.
Brian didn't go with us to church this past Sunday but he has met all the people before. When I told him all about the service he said that next time he'd join us.
This from a militant Atheist. I think he might be in it for the food.