Monday, June 14, 2004

The middle part of my faith journey or why I love liturgy and old hymns.- Part II A of faith journey

I credit my parents in bringing me to church and Sunday school on a regular basis. I was raised with liturgy and hymns. I grew up appreciating the sense of worshipping across the ages with the invisible Christian church and of being reminded each Sunday the basics of our faith in God.

In college, I began attending the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meetings. We sang songs that reminded me of the ones we used to sing at summer church camp. We also watched movies that were basically designed to scare people into making a decision for Christ so that they wouldn't go to hell. I attended a local Bible church just outside of town. It was completely independent of any oversight by any governing body, except for the elders of the church. Every service was filled with old Baptist hymns and Bible-based sermons; we were supposed to have our Bibles out and ready with pens and paper during his sermons. This little Bible church was adamantly opposed to a printed service outline or ever having anything resembling a liturgy. The pastor never wanted to be tied down to an order of worship; he wanted to be ready to change topics whenever the spirit moved him. I attended many, many Bible studies at this church.

After about a year and a half, I had seen enough troubling events (pastor refused to take direction from church elders, pastor's life was not in good order, some church members falling in and out of sin over and over again, no governing authority outside of the church, etc.). I began attended the on-campus Lutheran worship center and was comforted once again by tradition. I loved being part of corporate worship, with emphasis placed on God and not on the individual worshipper. Once I got my own car, I began driving to the sponsoring ELCA church to attend services with a natural body of believers - adults, students, children. I still was mostly unaware of any synodical changes going on from the recent merger, as most young adults would be. I finished my college studies while attending this ELCA church, but I did keep attending the weekly campus InterVaristy meetings. I loved getting together with my Evangelical Christian friends to sing and pray. These same friends did not attend my Lutheran church on Sunday mornings, but remained at the little Bible church. This didn't bother me at all. I saw myself as melding my traditional lutheran upbringing with the best of the evangelical Christian world. I was too young and too untrained to see any problem with an ecumenical worldview. I would continue this pattern of buffet-style faith and worship until it nearly drained me of my faith twenty years later.

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