Thursday, April 5, 2012

newspaper column, in which I air church complaints

This week's column for the St. Clair Times was designed to be about Easter. The point may have gotten lost. Oh well. Enjoy, or comment here, or on Twitter.
Easter puts a smile on every face in church

To be perfectly frank, attending a Sunday church service can be as much an exercise in frustration as it is a spiritual experience.

I never understood, growing up, why so many of the people at church seemed unhappy to be there. I mean, I understood why I was unhappy to be there — I was little, and being forced to dress up and to sit still for an hour and listen to a lot of recited words and speeches that were way over my head didn’t necessarily appeal to my childlike sense of wonder. The adults were there, presumably, by choice — although it wasn’t clear why anyone would choose to attend something that made them so apparently unhappy.

I think, now that I am in my 30s, I do understand.

The music can be frustrating. This is somewhat of an understatement. The hymns are too slow; the praise music is too fast; the worship leader won’t stop talking long enough for everyone to enjoy it.

The pastor’s sermon left something to be desired. Maybe he even brought up a politically sensitive topic from the pulpit, which frankly rubs me the wrong way.

And the children. Lord, the children. I am certain my own mother would cry if she sat near some of these spoiled, obnoxious kids and their tone-deaf parents.

So yeah, every Sunday I show up dressed reasonably well — and good grief, who dresses some of these people, anyway? — and hope just to make it through without saying something that gets me kicked out.

Maybe the problem is me. Actually, the problem is definitely me.

Because along comes Holy Week, which ends at Easter, and I realize what the entire exercise is about. The music’s better on Easter Sunday; the sun shines a little brighter; everybody behaves a little better.

Even the sermon is better. That’s probably because of the crowd – most pastors I know spend the entire year preparing for the Easter homily they’ll deliver to a room packed so full they have to bring in extra seating.

(True Easter story: One year on that Sunday, the pastor was in the midst of his sermon when the microphone started to, for lack of a better term, cut out. Attempting to restrain himself, the pastor looked toward the booth where the sound controls were and said, “C’mon guys. I’ve only been working on this all year.”)

In any case, this is one of the many reasons I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday, like I do every year. We can all go back to being mad on the Sunday after.

Or maybe we don’t have to.

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