koji berry

koji berry

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finding God in a strange church

Observing how people struggle to find their gods turns out to be my favorite hobby. Years ago, I wrote in the Indonesian students mailing list the things people do to find their own gods, like by being member of a church located in another city, or changing the denomination. I say 'god' without capital G as I believe what we are looking is our own personal god, not the God as written in the holy scriptures, but the one who speaks personally to us.

Last Sunday, I had the urge to see my own god. I felt weak and depressed after the talk I had before with some friends, which can be summarized to "why haven't you find a job at the moment, after being unemployed for so many months". Because yes, I have been asking myself too. There is no job out there yet worth selling my time to explore myself and to perform the experiments with Lrrr. That is it.

So I woke up early (for a Sunday morning) and biked to the Catholic church in the city. And alas - it was locked. The priest must be on vacation again, and they forgot to put the announcement on the door, again. What to do? In normal situations I would have gone home or spend the afternoon in a cafe, reading a book. But I desperately needed my god, so I entered the only church that was open at the moment, a Christian church called "City Life Church". From outside, it looks like the regular Protestant church, with some ushers standing outside with "You're welcome" printed on their t-shirts.

Inside, the band was playing worship songs with many Jesus' in the text. This is also typical Protestant: beside saying how great is Jesus, the song lyrics do not say anything much. However, the gesture of the singer, asking people to stand up and rejoice for Jesus, as He has risen and He wanted to be with us ... it was enough for me to make my eyes water. Oh, how I needed Him to speak softly to me and say that everything will be fine, that I am loved!

I deduced that City Life Church is a Christian church without a particular denomination, based on the songs (only about Jesus) and the attendees. There were many immigrants there, including me. We were people that do not fit into the normal Dutch churches. For me, it is easy to enter a Catholic church and feels a bit at home, but I cannot imagine a Somalian asylum seeker entering the Dutch Reform Church. The guy next to me had an Arabic Bible, and I could not believe that he is a Protestant. Probably Coptic or some other very old Christian. To gather people from various streams, the church needs to be as neutral and basic as possible, hence the Jesus-only text.

After the worship, the young pastor came to the stage for the sermon. The sermon was about going out and spread the good news, like how Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman. Then the praying - well, they pray for people who needs jobs and who struggle with their relationships. Very modern, isn't it? I liked this part. This is a part that I missed from Catholic church, the ability to react to nowadays problems. The pastor said, Jesus is working on giving you a right place, so that you not only can earn money but also be a blessing for the people around you. Hey, I like this! My eyes started to water again. So maybe that's why it is very difficult for us to find jobs: we need a good place.

And that was it. There was no confession, no communion, even no Our Father. Basic, I told you.

My thirst for god was fulfilled. Thank you, City Life Church! Hope lost souls like me can always find your door. That being said, I would prefer my Catholic church whenever possible. I missed the silence, the opportunity to have intimate talks with The Transcendent, the rituals. I am not a puritan, so for me church is not the matter of keeping it strictly by the book, but to connect with the spiritual me, the part of me that has grown from years of singing Gregorian songs and chanting Hail Mary.

(Back home, they adapted the Javanese tunes into the hymns. This was even better as I can connect the Javanese-me and the Catholic-me.)

But when the Catholic church close their doors, I know where I could turn to.

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