I borrowed this image from a Catholic web site. Isn't it pretty?
It's Easter, so today I wanted to do something simple: go to church. I just wanted to gather with other people and pray and sing. I went online and found a United Methodist within walking distance. I put on nice clothes and set off. About half an hour later, I was there though a bit chilly. The church was gorgeous.
I went in, got a bulletin from the usher and sat down. Next thing I knew...tap, tap, tap. A young man had sat down behind me. I shook hands with him and we exchanged introductions.
Now I must admit that I have complained more than once about not being able to meet any nice young Christian guys. Heck, nice young men of any faith. I got so discouraged by all the atheist guys that at one point I would have been happy with a nice Jewish guy or even a Buddhist. At least they believe in something, even if it's not what I believe in. Well, be careful what you wish for.
This guy, Bradford, started asking me for information. I told him I went to ODU, getting an MFA in poetry. He shared that he is a theology student at some other university in town. He was decent-looking, but during the course of this brief conversation, he had already touched my shoulder more times than I was comfortable with. Then he said something about graduate studies seeming endless, "like perpetual dripping [or something equally weird] from the lips." And then he touched my bottom lip! Eeeeewww! We'd known each other for two minutes! We were in church! What? Seriously, WHAT!?!
In a bar, a dating-type-place, that would have been inappropriate. I would have told him off. In church, it was much more inappropriate, but telling him off felt inappropriate, too. I must have looked horrified. Instead of catching the hint, he said, "I hope you'll let me take you out to dinner after church." "Oh, er, no," I stuttered, "I have plans." Plans to go home. Plans to not go out with you. "Well then I hope you'll let me take you out later this week." "Oh, I don't know," I replied awkwardly, feeling trapped. Luckily, the service started.
The congregation was really small. I thought it might just be because they'd had a sunrise service, but I was informed "We're small on people, but big on heart." During the sermon, the pastor (who has a lovely voice) informed us, "People complain, 'So-and-so just passed away, and no one new is coming in.' I don't put up with that. I say, 'Bring people in!'" Good point, but on the other hand, way to pass the buck! I had to work hard to find his church online, and since getting home I've examined the site more closely. It's the most old-fashioned Methodist Church I've ever come across. They're not using any innovative methods to attract new members. The minister's preaching in general doesn't seem to mesh with the the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (understanding religion as the interplay of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience). Whatever.
Meanwhile, Bradford, as a future minister, felt the need to pray louder than the minister or the congregation during shared responses. Unfortunately, he was faster than everyone else. When we sang, he sang loudest, even though he was faster than everyone else and slightly off-key. He would even mutter corrections to the sermon. Okaaay....Even if he hadn't hit on me, I would have found him annoying. I kept thinking to myself, "Being annoyed at him isn't Christian. Tolerance...love...see God in everyone..."
When the minster went out of his way to say that a fetus is a person, Bradford called out, "AMEN!" Oh, see, Bradford? You think you like me, but you wouldn't really like me. I'm pro-choice. If I'd known his feelings on the matter sooner, I would have lead with that:
Him: I hope you'll let me take you out to dinner after church.
Me: Oh, er, no, I'm pro-choice.
He might have tried to save me from my heathen beliefs, but at least he would have stopped hitting on me.
I didn't find my new church home, but I got to worship, pray and sing. That's what matters most. Then, the minute the service was over (while Bradford was chatting with someone else), I booked it! I was halfway to the door when he called out, "Erin!" I turned, smiled a friendly smile, waved and just kept going...quickly! On the walk home, I enjoyed the sunshine, the flowers in people's gardens, the trees in bloom, many robins and a blue jay-- spring, and new life all around. Happy Easter, everyone.