Sunday, January 17, 2010

what does this mean?

I had decided that I wanted to go to church at least once while I was here. They have chapel on campus every weekday, and Wednesday is a full service with communion, but I decided I wanted to visit another congregation. Particularly since I finished reading Delivering the Sermon by Teresa Fry Brown last night, I wanted to watch a preacher and relate it to what I just read, and I was curious about worshiping at a different congregation, especially in the north because it seems like there might be some differences and I was curious. There is a Lutheran church across the street from the seminary, so I checked online and found their worship times. So I walked over and into one door that looked kind of like a front entrance. There were children and parents everywhere, as if a children's Sunday School had just ended. That didn't seem like the right entrance, and no one asked me if I needed help, so I turned around and walked around the building to another door I had seen people using. That entrance had mostly adults, but it led to a large entry type room. There was a sign above a doorway that had several words listed, including kitchen, narthex, and worship, but no directional arrows. I figured that must be it, so I walked through the doorway and into what looked like space that would be used for fellowship and eating, and the kitchen was to the right. There were two hallways on each side of the kitchen that led to closed doors. I imagine I had to be looking at least a little lost by now, and I was kind of wondering how big this place was that no one seemed to realize I was a stranger, because still no one spoke to me. I was beginning to feel awkward and still I could not understand where the sanctuary might be. I did not want to wander around too much, so I turned around and walked back outside and crossed the street again back to campus.
I was disappointed that I did not get to attend worship, but more than that I am still trying to understand what this means. I have heard, and in my own congregation we have talked about, what it means to be welcoming and how to make it easier for visitors to attend. I have never experienced anything quite like this before. I have certainly never given up and left a church before. I do not know if there is some difference in geographical location that has something to do with my experience. Maybe they simply do not get a lot of visitors and so they don't have any means of helping them. (then again, maybe this is why they do not have many visitors) I still do not understand where the sanctuary is in that building, nor do I understand why they have no signs about what parts of the building are. It's not like I couldn't find the bathroom. The sanctuary! I am still confused, so I share this so that you can think about your own congregation, if you have one, and how truly welcoming your place of worship is to a visitor of any kind.

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