I Wanna Be Holy

Written: 20 September, 1999

Herewith I shall detail the 3rd and 4th time I have ever been inside churches, which occured earlier today. I'm titling this "I Wanna Be Holy" because I was thinking last night that that would be a good name for a religious rock song, and plus it's kinda how I feel.

I learned on the Internet that there was a Catholic church near my home (on the street behind the nearby Kmart, so that whole street was kinda blocked from my view) and a Presbyterian church in the other direction. I had today off work so I decided to check them both out. I made sure that I dressed okay so that I would feel less intimidated about going inside.

I didn't have the exact address of the Catholic church, but I remembered where the Yahoo map said it would be, so I walked in that general direction, thinking it would he hard to miss. I found the church with no problem, but I had some difficulty finding out which door I was supposed to go in! The section of the church nearest to the street was the "sanctuary" (I think that's what it is called) where the sermons and worshipping takes place. But the doors there were locked and it was dark inside. I peered through the glass to get a glimpse of what it was like (since I hadn't seen the worship section of the Lutheran church last week....which means, this was only the 2nd time in my life I was able to view the worship area of a church close up). I walked around the side of the building and it looked like part of the building was an elementary school. I finally decided to open the door which mentioned an "office," and going inside I saw a long hallway that reminded me of a school hallway. On one side there were some pamphlets (a few were about abortion) hanging on the wall. To the other side was a large empty room that looked like a school cafeteria (tables & chairs), and beyond that what looked and sounded like classrooms.

A lady was sweeping in the empty cafeteria and asked me if I needed any help. I replied that I was interested in attending church, and asked if this building was indeed a church. She said yes it was, and a Catholic church if that made any difference to me. She told me that I could get a "welcome packet" from the pastor's office (or something like that) a few doors down. I went into the office, where the first sight I saw was a big brown God-awful statue that I suppose must have some religious significance but just looked like a big eyesore as far as I was concerned. In the same room there was a lady at a desk. I said that I was interested in starting to attend a church, and asked for the "welcome packet." She went in a room and came out with a manila envelope with various papers in it for me. I explained that I had only recently become a Christian and had never really gone to church before. I asked some questions about where the worship (she called it "mass") is held, what doors would I go in, etc. I said that someone had told me I should probably just sit in the back since I don't know what's going on, but she said I could sit wherever I wanted to. She was helpful, but I sensed very little warmth from her. You would think someone would at least smile to hear of someone else becoming a Christian, but maybe she sees it all the time and it becomes routine and unsurprising after awhile.

I decided to explore a little bit of this area of town (which I'd rarely been in) and looked over some of the materials in the packet at a bench in the park. The church is called The Church of St. Cyprian. There seemed to be a bit of emphasis on "Time, Talent, and Treasure" that the member is expected to contribute to the church. The word "Sacrament" is used quite a bit, too, whatever that means. There was also a census form to be returned to the church after having been filled out. The box labeled "Sacraments" has four things listed, with boxes next to them for the person to check off which ones apply: "Baptized," "Reconciliation," "Eucharist," and "Confirmed." There was also a box for whether the person was Catholic, yes or no. I was glad to receive so much comprehensive information, although it's a bit overwhelming.

Anyway, I decided to check out the Presybterian USA church. It's called the First Presbyterian Church of Wyandotte, which is the city that it is in. On the way there (I walked), I passed two other churches -- a Baptist Missionary church and another church I forget what its name was. I also passed the offices of my Internet provider (Driveninc) and the Downriver offices for "Right to Life of Michigan." I located the church, but again I had trouble finding the door. Several of the doors facing the street had a sign on them saying something like "These doors are locked. Please use the entrance at the rear of the building, next to the parking lot." So, I went to the rear entrance, but that door had a sign saying that the secretary's father had died so the office wasn't open, please call for an appointment. I noticed that there was a building that looked kinda like a big house in the parking lot where some people were pulling up and going into, but I didn't know what that was about. I walked down the street a-ways, and then turned around and decided to make another swing by the church to see what it looked like inside. I went up to the door where the sanctuary is and looked inside, when I noticed that there was someone vaccuming in there. The door was locked, so I knocked on the door. The man turned off the vaccum when he saw me and opened up the door. He looked a little like photos I've seen of Mark Waid, perhaps a little older, and wearing a sweater. I told him that I was interested in learning more about the church since I wanted to start attending one, but that the doors were locked. He invited me into the sanctuary and we stood talking in there for about five minutes. And that was the second time I've ever been in the worship portion of a church before.

I told him that I recently became a Christian, and he said "Great! How did you become a Christian?" I said that it was a long story, but I gave the short version: listening to Christian rock, having my qualms about accepting Christianity put to rest by the answers I got on these boards, and seeing the "red moon" after being stressed out at work, which made real for me Jesus' sacrifice. I told him the Greg Hatcher story about God's mercy, and how that helped me overcome my questions over whether God was "a just God" or not. He said something like, "God works in mysterious ways," to all that. It turns out that he was the pastor of the church, whose name I'd seen earlier on the sign outside the church. He told me that this was a good time to start coming to the church because they were going to be trying some new things. He said something like that they wanted to do some more contemporary worship things, with contemporary music and stuff, although some of the traditionalists were uncomfortable with that, so that they might have two different services, traditional and contemporary. He said that he was teaching a class on Collosians ("which is kind of an obscure book" I think he said) and another person at the church was teaching a class on "Genesis." He led me to the library room where the Genesis class are held, and then showed me into the lounge room where the Colossians classes are held. Both classes would be Sunday morning before the worship service and last about an hour. He said no question was "off-limits" in the class and not to be afraid to ask any question. He said the classes just started last week or so. Now I just have to decide whether I want to attend the Colossians class or the Genesis class. I think I might go with Colossians since he is teaching it and since I've met him at least and he knows my situation of being a new person.

He gave me two pamphlets to learn more about the church. I told him that I had just come from the Catholic church and not sure what denomination I was, although I'd grown up saying I was Presybeterian. I asked him how should I dress for worship and he said the way I was dressed now was fine. Some people wear ties, he said, other people go all out wearing big hats and stuff, and then some other people wear shorts. "The important thing is you're here."

I was shocked. "My hair??!"

"No, h-e-r-e!" I was relieved. For a minute there, I thought he was gonna tell me that I'd have to get my hair cut before I could attend the church. He made a comment about how what's inside is what's important. He had pretty much answered all my questions (I kept asking which doors I should use to enter whenever he'd mention something being held inside the church like a class or worship), although I forgot to ask about the "communion" thing of eating bread and drinking wine. I also don't know what the difference is between a pastor, minister, reverend, etc. is... But he answered the basics and I thanked him for his time ("That's what we're here for," he said) and shook his hand again (we probably shook hands about four times total during all this), and I was glad that I'd stopped to knock at the door and got the guided tour by the Reverend himself!

I think I have Sunday off next weekend, so that may be when I'll start going to a church for the first time. Amazing, huh? :-)