September 18, 2005

Adventures in Church Hopping

After a two-month long sabbatical (actually it was more like playing hooky), I decided to start going to church again today. I wasn’t really set on any particular denomination, but wanted to stay away from Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans (the Missouri Synod Lutherans, the Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, the Evangelical Lutherans, the Evangelical Free Lutherans, and even the Lutheran Bretheren Lutherans), Independents, Congregationalists, Quakers, Mennonites, Nazarites, Plebeosites, and Parasites, so that left me with the Presbyterians. It just so happens that there’s a little Presbyterian church a few miles from my house, so I decided, what the hell, let’s give it a try. (See what being unchurched for so long has done to me? I’ve even been using the D-word lately.)

Walking up to the church building, the first thing I saw was an old lady with a walker. She was having trouble getting the walker up over a curb and I thought about helping her. Before I had time to act, though, I saw another old person, this one a drooling old man, also having trouble with his walker; one of the tennis balls on the bottom was peeling off. Not sure who to help, I decided to put my head down and quickly enter the building.

Once inside, I saw a group of old people standing by the door. They seemed shocked when I entered and began to stand around me and wish me a good morning and thank me for joining them on this fine Sunday. I smiled and meandered towards the sanctuary. As I entered, a stooped-over old usher wished me a good morning, shook my hand, and gave me a church bulletin. I thanked him and took a seat.

Looking around the sanctuary, what did I see before me but one white head of hair after another. Surely there must be someone here my age, I thought. I then spotted a brown-haired gal just a few rows in front of me and breathed a sigh of relief. As I began to study this woman, though, I soon realized that I was looking at a ninety-year-old in a wig!

As the service began, more people began to trickle into the sanctuary. Actually, trickle into the sanctuary isn’t the right way to put it. Hobble and wheelchair into the sanctuary is more accurate. It was like I’d died and gone to that middle place between heaven and earth where believers are waiting in line to get their resurrected bodies.

Not wanting to be judgmental, I told myself that perhaps this was the right church for me. I shouldn’t discriminate against the elderly, I said to myself. Though I’d been hoping to find a church with people my own age, or at least my parents’ age, it would be wrong to reject this church just because everyone here was so much older than me. I owed these people so much. After all, many of them had put their lives on the line and fought for this country’s freedom during the first world war.

The pastor made a few announcements and then sat down as the organist began to play “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The instrument began to whine and wheeze away and I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve never liked soft rock in worship services, feeling it doesn’t create a worshipful atmosphere, but how does one get any less worshipful than an organ? Even flatulence can be more glorifying to God.

So I started to plot my escape. I turned around and saw the stooped-over usher standing by the door. Catching my eye, he smiled. I turned back around. I didn’t want to leave with him standing there. I don’t know why; I guess I just thought it might hurt his feelings. So my plan was to wait him out. As soon as he left his spot by the door, I was to make a run for my freedom.

A couple hymns later, the pastor asked the ushers to come forward to collect the offering. I looked at the usher by the door and saw that he was walking to the front of the church. I breathed a sigh of relief. As soon as he reached the front row, I was going to flee. So a half-hour later, he made it to the front and I was out the door…

Join us again next week for more…Adventures in Church Hopping with Don Emmerich