Saturday, December 25, 2004

So This is Christmas

Woo Hoo.

It's funny. The keep putting radar images in the corner of the TV screen because apparently it's snowing in the bayous. They actually closed I-10 between Prairieville and New Orleans for a little bit of snow and freezing rain. I drove from Erie to Buffalo in a blizzard that layed down a foot and a half of snow and they never considered closing 90. Wimps

I enjoyed services last night. The church was decorated simply but beautifully. The service wasn't complicated or dynamic or full of bells and whistles (well, whistles, anyway - there were handbells) but it was...peaceful. I think that was part of what was starting to get to me about Catholic worship - for all the bells and whistles and rules and just...stuff, I was losing site of why I was there. Lutheran worship is a scaled back version of Catholic worship, and I find I like it's simplicty and peacefulness.

I also found the sermon very significant. On the way to church, God and I were having a little conversation that went something like this:

"Big Guy, to be blunt, this year sucked."

"I know. Sorry about that."

"Not your fault. But I need 2004 to be better. I need You to help me make it better. You lead, I'll follow, but I need to know what to do."


So I listened. And the pastor preached last night about how we focus so much on celebrating Jesus' birth that we forget the other part of the equation - the gift he gave us with His life and death. He said that Christmas, we need to remember that Love has in fact come, and has left us His grace. He said we need to remember to live in the moment, and trust that the path that God has laid out for us, difficult as it sometimes is, is filled with graced moments and to revel in that Gift Jesus gave us.

Yeah. God and I are communicating again. Contrast above to what I wrote on July 4th (again, I'd link but I'm feeling too lazy. Just go to the July archive page).

I also made the decsion last night to write to two of my Catholic friends and tell them what's going on. I've been going to this church since August, but I'm scared to death to tell my Catholic friends. I'm scared of one of two things happening. The easiest to explain is rejection, especially from those down here in Louisiana. Catholic-Protestant relations here are kind of...non-existant. I'm not used to that at all. In Pittsburgh, the Catholic bishop and the Lutheran bishop issue at least on joint statement of faith every year. In fact, the leaders of all the mainline Christian denominations meet on a regular basis to pray and talk. Here, Catholics seem to be threatened by Protestants. So I'm afraid that if I admit to the fact that I'm thinking of becoming one of the, they'll just shove me completely out of their lives.

The second fear, and if a way, the worse fear for me, is that they'll be persistant in trying to "bring me back home." A lot of Catholics view anyone who leaves the church for whatever reason as a lost sheep who needs to be shephered back to the flock. They are persistent in wanting to drag you back, whether you want to go or not. I don't know if I could face that. It was not a snap decision that led me to St. Paul's. It was months of agonizing and praying and contemplating and studying before I even considered it, then it took three weeks of driving there, sitting in the parking lot until services began, and leaving before I finally got up the guts to go inside. I just don't know how I'd react if I was accused of experimenting or making a snap, spontaneous decision. I'm a rational, intelligent person, even when it comes to religion (I intentionally didn't say faith - faith isn't reasonable in and of itself, but it can't exist without reason as far as I am concerned.). I knew what I was doing when I made the choices I did, I don't regret them, and at this point in time I don't want to go back to the Catholic Church. I can't say that that will be a permanent thing, but for now, I like the community where I am worshipping. I like what I have read about Lutheran theology and spirituality. I can hear God again. It's a good thing.

So I'm writing two letters. I don't know what will happen, but I know I have to do it.

Oh. I made pancakes on my new griddle today. It was exciting. I also made bacon in a frying pan and filled my apartment with smoke. I find it funny that turning on the heat for the first time in winter can make my smoke alarm go off, but an apartment full of bacon smoke doesn't. Not a comforting thought.

No comments: