For the first time in 10 years, and probably only the 3rd time EVER… I went to church today.
They’re a non-denominational church called Area10, and actually brand themselves as a “Faith Community,” which I think is pretty cool. They hold their Sunday service at an historic Richmond landmark (and $2 movie theatre) called the Byrd Theatre.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I went into it with a slightly-skeptical, but open, mind. I wanted to at least enjoy a part (or parts) of the service, and possibly walk out of there with something to ponder. My wish was granted, and here’s how it all went down.
About Baptism (or you could call it… commitment)
The pastor, Chris, focused his talk around Baptism: what it means & how it should be done. Before today, this topic meant very little to me. While I do have a better understanding of it now, I still can’t really relate. But Chris used a few examples that opened my eyes to an important concept.
A significant event to solidify a commitment
I’ve never been one to celebrate. Little victories, big accomplishments, anything really. I often saw the celebration as just a formality. It didn’t make the journey I took to get there any sweeter. And I didn’t need a celebration to validate what I had done.
I used to have a similar feeling towards various commitments. I’ve mocked New Year’s Resolutions in the past. I’ve never been a huge fan of putting labels on a relationship at various stages. And on and on with many other things.
Chris used getting married as an analogy for getting baptized. “Many people ask me this question, and I hate it when they do. They say, ‘I was already baptized as a child. So do I really have to [get baptized]?’
Chris’ answer was,
“Well, no, you don’t have to do anything. But if you want to give your life to Christ, than yes, you have to.”
Marriage is the same way
Do you really have to get married if you already know you both love each other? If you’re already living together? What’s the point? Isn’t it just a formality?
No. It’s more than just a formality. It’s a significant event that you can look back on to remind yourself of your commitment. When we don’t have these events to look back on, guess what happens? We break the commitment.
How many times has a doctor, or dentist, or nutritionist, or trainer, or psychiatrist, told you that in order to achieve your goal, you had to make this change? Did you make it? Yeah, of course you did… for a little while. A few days, a few weeks, maybe a year or two. But without a significant event, or some type of symbolism that we carry with us, we eventually revert back to our old habits… even when we know deep down that it’s not the best thing for us.
“You don’t have to wear a wedding ring. I know I love my wife here [pointing to heart] and here [pointing to head]. But having that ring on my finger reminds me that I’m taking her with me wherever I go. And every time I see it I am reminded of our commitment.”
Appreciation & Selflessness
During one of the final songs, since I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics… I bowed my head, closed my eyes & reflected on the past 60 minutes I had just experienced. My mind took me to a place of kindness & selflessness. It was clear I had 3 groups of people to thank for my experience.
James, Jennifer & Jennifer’s parents… for their invitation, open-minded approach & welcoming attitude. They helped me feel comfortable in what could have been an uncomfortable situation.
The pastor, Chris… for sharing not only his thoughts on spirituality, but his life experiences. And for being incredibly humble, occasionally funny & an engaging speaker.
The musicians & singers… for giving their time to create wonderful music, and exuding a great deal of passion for what they were singing about. In my mind, passion is, and always will be contagious, regardless what it’s for.
“What Are You Waiting For?”
The pastor, Chris, kept repeating this question at the end of his talk. Even though his question was in relation to getting Baptized—and that’s not happening for me in the immediate future—I was still able to take something away from this.
I’m notorious for starting things but never seeing them through. I’m also really good at coming up with ideas. Unfortunately, more than half of them never see the light of day. I have extremely strong conviction, but only act on a small percentage of it. Looks like I’m a procrastinator after all.
So that question he kept repeating, “What are you waiting for?” Regardless of what it’s in relation to, it’s a great question. And it’s one in which most of us don’t have any good answers for. And if you can’t answer it, than it’s time to start taking action.
I want to say “Thank You” to James, Jennifer & Jennifer’s family for sharing the experience with me. And to James & Jennifer for their invitations to join them at church. I enjoyed myself, and would definitely not have gone without the invitation or the company.
Give It A Try
Regardless of your faith, I would encourage you all to consider attending church. Perhaps you’re selective with exactly which church you attend, as I realize they are not all the same. In fact, I do believe there are a number of churches I could’ve chosen to attend this morning that would have scared the bejesus out of me (pun intended). So choose wisely. But if you have awesome friends, whose opinions you respect & value, take them up on their offer.
Take from it what you want. And leave what you don’t.
You don’t have to take the pastor’s word as literal truth. You don’t have to participate in communion, or anything else that you aren’t comfortable with (or just don’t see the meaning in). I walked up to the communion table, and just bowed my head, said a few words of thanks under my breath, and moved on. No bread. No wine. No problem.
Think about what’s being said in your own way. Apply it to your own life, and your own beliefs.
If the music moves you, let it in. If you feel positive energy, smile, and give it back to those around you. If you relate to something, nod your head in acknowledgement. And remember… just because you don’t agree, it doesn’t mean you don’t belong.